What job will Patrick Pelata get when he moves back to Renault from Nissan next month?
Renault won't say. But it's likely that Pelata will become the French carmaker's vice president in charge of product, planning and international affairs in July when current postholder Georges Douin retires.
Later, if incoming Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn decides to appoint a right-hand man in Paris, Pelata could be named Renault's first chief operating officer.
Ghosn will take the reins at Renault on April 29. He intends to spend the first six months getting reacquainted with Renault and assessing the company's strengths and weaknesses. He will then divide his time between Paris, Tokyo and the US.
Ghosn will remain chairman and CEO of Renault's Japanese alliance partner Nissan and he will continue to head Nissan's crucially important US operations.
After the half year back at Renault, Ghosn could decide to replicate the management structure of Nissan and appoint a chief operating officer. Last month, Toshiyuki Shiga, 51, was named chief operating officer of Nissan effective April 1.
If Ghosn wants a Renault No. 2, Pelata, a classmate from the Ecole Polytechnique, France's top engineering school, would be the frontrunner.
One of Ghosn's most trusted lieutenants, Pelata last year became head of Nissan's Euro-pean operations on top of his responsibilities for planning and design there.
Pelata was in charge of vehicle engineering development in 1999 at Renault when Ghosn invited him to join a top group of Renault executives tasked with restoring the near-bankrupt Nissan to financial health.