French carmaker Renault posts record full-year sales and profits and sets itself ambitious new mid-term goals for both after earnings were boosted by a comprehensive revamp of its product range. As Sonia Legg reports, Renault and alliance partner Nissan are also ready to pursue a closer tie-up.
Selling off the crown jewels - that's how some view the prospect of the French government selling its stake in Renault. But that's what the CEO says is holding up closer ties between the French automaker and its Japanese alliance partner Nissan. A power struggle between Carlos Ghosn and the French government first emerged in 2015 after the state increased its stake from 15 to nearly 20 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, IG, MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "I don't think we'll see them be willing to do that just yet. Indeed given the closely tied nature of the election at the moment even if I new government does come in later this year, 5I think they'll find it very difficult to move away from that." It's not hard to see why Ghosn might want closer ties. Renault's business is accelerating nicely. Operating profit jumped 38 percent in 2016, with revenue up 13 percent - both were records. Renault also increased market share in all regions, thanks to a rush of product launches. Low costs models were particularly successful, although it's not the only car maker doing well. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, IG, MARKET ANALYST, SAYING: "It looks as if a weakening of the euro over the last year or so has certainly helped exports. We've seen an uptick in European companies and European retail sales over the last year or so, so it looks as if there is a better backdrop to the general picture for the company." The group has set new five-year goals, including a 7 percent operating margin and 70 billion euros in revenue. It's also raised its proposed dividend by 75 cents a share to 3 euros 15. It even sees struggling markets like Russia and Brazil bottoming out at "stable" levels this year While China expands a further 5 percent and India grows 8 percent.