Louis Schweitzer has succeeded where his predecessors failed: He has made Renault a global player in the car industry.
On March 27 in Tokyo, Schweitzer signed an agreement with Nissan President Yoshikazu Hanawa that gave Renault a 36.8 percent stake in Nissan Motor Co. Renault also gained major executive positions inside Nissan's management.
The most significant of these was Renault Executive Vice President Carlos Ghosn's appointment as Nissan's COO.
Eleven years after the sale of American Motors to Chrysler Corp., eight years after an unsuccessful takeover of Skoda, and five years after a failed merger with Volvo, Schweitzer has gained his revenge.
Schweitzer has strived to strengthen Renault by protecting profit margins, improving labor relations and lowering the French state's level of equity in the company. It is 44 percent today.
Despite criticism from labor leaders, Schweitzer shut the Vilvorde plant in Belgium in 1997.
Schweitzer also played the key role in the company's decision to propose a formal alliance with Nissan last year. He also persuaded Ghosn to leave Renault headquarters in Paris to go to Tokyo and fix Nissan's problems.
Schweitzer's financial skills, his sense of diplomacy and his connections with the French socialist government will be critical to the success of the Nissan alliance.