French automaker Renault fell in the red last year for the first time since 2009, recording a net loss of 141 million euros, without seeing the end of the tunnel after its first year without its emblematic boss Carlos Ghosn .
In a shrinking world market, the diamond group was the victim of a drop in its activity, with turnover down 3.3% to 55.5 billion euros, which resulted in a drop in profitability.
For 2020, in a world market that is still in decline, the diamond group anticipates a further decline in its profitability. It expects sales “of the same order” as in 2019.
“Visibility for 2020 remains limited by the expected volatility of the markets (…) and by the possible impacts of the coronavirus” from China, said Clotilde Delbos, acting managing director, quoted in a press release.
The French manufacturer had announced in January a 3.4% decline in sales last year to 3.75 million vehicles.
Renault was also the victim of a drop in the financial contribution of its struggling Japanese ally Nissan, which fell to 242 million euros, compared to 1.51 billion in 2018. Thursday, bad news had still arrived from Japan where Nissan, owned 43% by Renault, has further downgraded its outlook after a drop in profits over nine months.
In addition, Renault's results were affected by the abandonment of a tax claim in France, resulting in a charge of € 753 million.
It is the first time since 2009 that Renault has been in the red for a year: at the time, in the midst of a financial crisis, it had suffered a loss of 3.1 billion euros.
The year 2019 was marked by turmoil at the headquarters of the French industrial flagship, with the ouster of general manager Thierry Bolloré. After Ms. Delbos' acting, the position will be taken on July 1 by Luca de Meo, an Italian until recently boss of Seat, the Spanish subsidiary of the German group Volkswagen.
One of its tasks will be to restore investor confidence: Renault's share has dropped by almost half in one year and is almost at its lowest level in ten years.
The arrest of Carlos Ghosn in Japan in November 2018, on accusations of embezzlement launched by Nissan executives, had plunged the Renault-Nissan alliance into crisis. The former boss is now a refugee in Lebanon after fleeing Japanese justice.