Renault announced yesterday in Paris that Carlos Tavares is returning from Nissan as its new chief operating officer, replacing Patrick Pélata. It was the latest development in an industrial espionage case that embarrassed the French government and saw the firings at Renault of Remy Pagnie, Director of Group Security, as well as his two co-workers, Dominique Gevrey and Marc Tixador.
Patrick Pélata, then Chief Operating Officer of Renault, was spared after a special board meeting in April. Carlos Ghosn also emerged with his head intact, remaining as CEO of Renault, but numerous French media reports speculated that the French government insisted that Pélata resign. Ghosn has said that Pélata will eventually assume an as yet unspecified position inside the Renault-Nissan alliance.
In March a French prosecutor said that three executives dismissed by Renault early this year are innocent of claims in the now infamous Renault industrial spy case that allegedly had the executives depositing payments into bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein in return for sensitive information, including plans for the Nissan Leaf and other electric cars.
The French government, which owns 15% of Renault, was embarrassed since it had not been informed of the alleged spying or of the firings before Renault went public in January with the accusations. The government began its own investigation with DCRI (Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence) after the firings occurred. It turns out the charges were completely false and the bank accounts did not exist.
Carlos Tavares will gradually assume his responsibilities from today, and will have fully assumed his responsibilities by 1 July 2011. Carlos Tavares is a graduate of Ecole Centrale de Paris. He has spent most of his working life with Renault, where he held a variety of posts in France, in the Engineering and Programs division. He joined Nissan in 2004 as Program Director and then as Vice President, Product Strategy and Product Planning. In 2005 he was appointed Executive Vice President at Nissan, joining the Board of Directors. In 2009 he assumed responsibility for operations at Nissan Americas.
Concurrently, Nissan Motor Company announced that Colin Dodge will replace Tavares. Dodge is currently Executive Vice President and Chief Performance Officer for Nissan globally and Chairman of the AMIE region (comprising Africa, Middle East, India and Europe) will take on the additional responsibility as Chairman of the Americas region (comprising North, Central and South America). This change is effective June 13.