By Gilles Guillaume and Nick Carey
PARIS (Reuters) -French carmaker Renault said on Friday that “all options are on the table” for separating its electric vehicle (EV) business, including a possible public listing in the second half of 2023.
Thierry Piéton, Renault’s finance chief, said that any plans were subject to approval from its alliance partner Nissan, but made clear that the Japanese carmaker “is in the loop” as it weighs up its options.
Renault has been pushing ahead with plans to split its EV and combustion engine businesses as it seeks to catch up with rivals such as Tesla and Volkswagen.
Ford said last month that it will run its EV business separately from its legacy combustion engine operations.
The news came as Renault posted better-than-expected revenue for the first quarter, as higher prices and rising EV sales largely offset the impact of the war in Ukraine and an ongoing global shortage of semiconductors .
Renault shares were up around 1% in early trading after its results announcement.
The group, which also produces Dacia and Lada brand vehicles, said on Friday its revenue fell by 2.7% from a year earlier to 9.748 billion euros ($10.6 billion). Analysts had expected revenue of around 9.61 billion euros, according to Refinitiv estimates.
Excluding the activities of Avtovaz and Renault Russia, revenue was down 1.1% at 8.9 billion euros.
Last month, Renault said it would suspend operations at its plant in Moscow while it assesses options on its majority stake in Avtovaz, Russia’s No. 1 carmaker.
On Friday, the French carmaker said talks on the future of Russian operations were “ongoing and making progress.”
The drop in first-quarter revenue followed a 17% decline of Renault’s vehicle sales to 552,000 vehicles, the lowest quarterly sales since during the height of the global financial crisis in 2009.
The company said its sales of fully-electric and hybrid vehicles rose 13% and accounted for 36% of sales. Renault said its prices were up 5.6% from the first quarter of 2021 as the carmaker pursues more profitable car sales.
In a client note J.P. Morgan analysts described this as a “strong quarter” for Renault.
“Renault continues to deliver on its pricing and model rationalization policy and today’s result comes in as
another step in the right direction,” they wrote.
Renault confirmed its financial outlook laid out in March of a full-year 2022 operating margin of around 3% and said it would give a more detailed update on its targets and strategy later this year.
The global shortage of semiconductors, used in everything from brake sensors to entertainment systems, will cut Renault’s planned car production by 300,000 vehicles in 2022, mostly in the first half of the year, the company said.
Renault’s order book at the end of March had hit a 15-year high of 3.9 months of sales.
($1 = 0.9223 euros)
(Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Nick Carey; writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Tassilo Hummel, Subhranshu Sahu and Tomasz Janowski)