Renault to accelerate state aid repayment after swinging back to profit

Renault to accelerate state aid repayment after swinging back to profit

Renault said on Friday that it expects to repay state subsidies it got during the coronavirus pandemic ahead of schedule, after posting a profit in 2021, exceeding expectations and reversing two years of losses.
The company has already repaid 1 billion euros ($4.55 billion) of the 4 billion euros ($4.55 billion) in loans it had obtained to assist it deal with the pandemic’s aftermath, and it aims to repay the balance before the 2024 contractual deadline. At least $2 billion will be repaid this year, with the remainder due by the end of 2023.
The carmaker reported a group share of net profit of 888 million euros ($1.0 billion), beating expectations from the analysts polled by Refinitiv, who had seen the figure at 818.7 million euros.
An operating margin of 3.6% exceeded the group’s own targets and placed it two years ahead of its “Renaulution” revitalisation plan, which had aimed at a margin of above 3% in 2023.
Renault said that since it’s exceeding its mid-term objectives, the group will hold a capital markets day in autumn this year to provide an update on progress.
The results boost follows the start of a vast restructuring to reduce fixed costs and refocus on Renault’s most profitable car models and markets.
“With these 2021 results, Renault Group reached a further step in its recovery,” said Chief Financial Officer Clotilde Delbos in a statement, attributing the performance to early successes of the firm’s strategy of “value over volumes” and its “strict financial discipline.”
For this year, the group, which had faced declining sales, margins and difficulties at its close partner Nissan, is targeting an operating margin of more than 4%, and an automotive operational free cash flow superior or equal to 1 billion euros, after the 1.6 billion euros recorded last year and an outflow of 4.5 billion in 2020.
The group, hit hard by the pandemic and subsequent semiconductor shortages and supply chain issues that have plagued the auto industry, will not propose any dividend for 2021 as it’s still prioritising improving results and paying back the state loan.
In competition with bigger carmakers with deeper pockets like Toyota or Tesla, the group also confirmed its ambition to turn the Renault brand fully electric by 2030.
It said it was also considering bringing its internal combustion and hybrid engines and transmissions business based outside France together within a dedicated entity.

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