Renault weighs in on the electric car business through an IPO

PARIS (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault said on Friday that all options were on the table to segregate its electric car business, including a possible public listing in the second half of 2023.

Renault’s finance chief Thierry Peyton said any plans were subject to approval by his alliance partner Nissan, but Renault made it clear that the Japanese carmaker was “in the loop” considering its options.

Renault is moving ahead with plans to split its electric vehicle and combustion engine businesses as it seeks to outperform competitors (most notably Volkswagen) in the cleaner driving competition.

Ford said last month that it would run its EV business separately from its legacy combustion engine operations.

Renault posted better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter, as higher prices and rising sales of electric vehicles largely offset the effects of the Ukraine war and the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors.

Renault’s shares rose briefly to 5% after Bloomberg reported that Renault might consider reducing its stake in Nissan as part of plans to separate its EV business.

Renault declined to comment.

Asked about the report, a Nissan spokesman said: “We do not comment on speculation.

In early afternoon trading in Paris, shares of Renault rose 1.4%.

The group, which also manufactures Dacia and Lada brand vehicles, said its revenue fell 2.7% to 9.75 billion euros ($ 10.6 billion) from a year earlier. According to refinitiv estimates, analysts expected revenue of around 9.61 billion euros.

Excluding Avtovaz and Renault Russia, revenue fell 1.1% to 8.9 billion euros.

Last month, Renault said it would suspend operations at its plant in Moscow as it evaluates options for its majority stake in Russia’s No. 1 carmaker AvtoVAZ.

On Friday, the French carmaker said talks on the future of the Russian operation were “ongoing and progressing”.

Car sales fell 17% to 552,000 vehicles as first-quarter revenue fell, to Renault’s lowest quarterly total since the depth of the global financial crisis in 2009.

The company said sales of fully electric and hybrid vehicles rose 13% and accounted for 36% of the total. Prices have risen 5.6% since the first quarter of 2021 as the group sells more profitable cars.

In a client note, JPMorgan analysts described it as a “strong quarter”.

“Renault continues to provide its pricing and model rationalization policy and today’s results come as another step in the right direction,” they wrote.

Renault has confirmed a financial outlook set for March for about 3% of its 2022 operating margin and said it would provide a detailed update on its goals and strategy later this year.

The global shortage of semiconductors used in everything from brake sensors to entertainment systems will reduce Renault’s planned car production by 300,000 cars by 2022, mostly in the first half of the year, the company said.

Renault’s order book at the end of March had a 15-year high of 3.9 months of sales.

(1 = 0.9223 euros)

(Reporting by Giles Guillaume and Nick Kerry, Editing by Thomas Janowski and Mark Potter by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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