It is an open secret. Renault intends to split into two separate entities. One baptized with the code name “Ampère”, and which should group the electrical activities. As for the second company, which for the moment is called “Caballo”, it would continue to manufacture cars equipped with good old internal combustion engines.
Things are becoming clearer regarding the “Horse” financing round, as discussions between Renault and China’s Geely appear to be well advanced and a third thief appears to be on the way: Saudi Aramco, world leader in oil and quite rich. . For this group, investing a few billion to get 20% of the shares of the new company is as painful as buying a bunch of carrots for a simple person.
A Saudi oil company and a Chinese manufacturer, majority in the future thermal Renault
Nor is it ruled out that Emmanuel Macron touched a word with Saudi King Mohammed ben Salman (MBS) during the latter’s official visit to Paris last July. The sovereign probably did not take long to be convinced, given the unimportance of the event for his country and his main business.
Even so, the signing of this round, which should assign 40% of the shares to Renault, both to Geely and 20% to Aramco, should not take long. The date of the official agreement is not known, but the IPO of “Ampère” on the stock exchange is already set for the fall of 2023.
All this may seem very hasty, and can be considered a fairly quick way to sell the family jewels, or at least those of a 123-year-old builder, and all with the support of the State, the old woman’s shareholder. But this eagerness may be linked to a good reason, and perhaps even two good reasons.
Renault needs money. Not only is it not the most profitable carmaker on the planet, far from it, but it also continues to leave feathers in Russia since its hasty departure from AutoVaz. But in addition, the diamond will have to invest tens of billions of euros in its transformation to electricity. This planned division into two entities has as its main objective to provide the necessary money for these investments and Luca De Meo has surely planned this operation since his arrival at the head of the brand. He was even going to appear headlining and in large print in his Renaulution announced two and a half years ago. Even if these large letters were not made public at the time of publication of said roadmap. But why proceed so quickly, when the deadline for total electricity is set for 2035?
Because De Meo, its president Jean-Dominique Sénard and the Bercy men in charge of following up the file with them know that Renault is not the only manufacturer that wants to try this type of maneuver and seek money. Geely has nearly 10% of Mercedes shares, as does the other Chinese giant Baic. The star from Stuttgart also needs new money to get electrified and has also just split in two. Although Mercedes prefers to go public to collect it, instead of going through a capital increase, the race for funds is launched in Germany, and throughout the automotive world. A race where the first to arrive will be the first to be served, hence Renault’s hare start in this adventure, which wants to avoid being the tortoise of the sector.
Attention, risk of relocation
Of course, this race will not go smoothly and without obstacles. They are not technological, but social. Because on the technological side, future developments in thermal energy are limited and transfers to China will be low. The major industrialized countries should also, after Europe, switch to full electricity. The United States is thinking about it and California is in the lead. China is increasing its quotas in this area and should quickly give up.
Then there will only be emerging countries, in India, Africa and South America, to run on oil. And new entities created on purpose, called “Horse” or others, will produce thermal and inexpensive cars for these regions. With what workforce? Is the question. But it is a safe bet that the factories that will manufacture them will not be in our region.
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