Carlos Tavares is a person used to taking risks, whether sitting at his desk or behind the wheel of a race car.
The 61-year-old PSA Group CEO is about to take the biggest risk of his car debt, convincing the Paris-based company to approve a merger with Italian-American Fiat Chrysler. The announcement jumped into the industry, coming just five months after Fiat Chrysler saw a similar structured marriage with the PSA's French archives collapse at 11am.
However, those who know Tavares well say they are not surprised by this move. Even before joining PSA as CEO in late 2013, the Portuguese-born CEO was determined to head one of the largest companies in the automotive industry. He even openly expressed an interest in taking the helm of either Ford or General Motors while working at Renault. Now Tavares is collecting what will become the world's fourth-largest automaker, estimated at about $ 50 billion.
"Like most successful CEOs, Carlos Tavares is not afraid to take risks ̵
When Tavares was announced to join PSA in 2013, the smaller of the two automakers in France was declared bankrupt until it received a rescue decision from the French government – which now owns 12.2% of the company through BPI France – and Chinese carmaker Dongfeng. PSA lost about $ 5 billion a year before taking over the company, or about $ 6.6 billion in 2012 exchange rates. Last year, it posted a profit of € 3.3 billion, or approximately $ 3.8 billion, as of December 31.
Tavares proved that it was no coincidence that he led the acquisition of General Motors' long-standing Opel and Vauxhall brands in 2017. , The subsidiary has been making money for two decades. Only 12 months later – and two years before the original Tavares plan – Opel was in black again.
"You hear nothing but how capable he is," Fiat Chrysler's senior executive told CNBC last week. It was a reputation that quickly came to light after he and his team got to know Tavares through months of secret negotiations.
What really matters, according to those who have watched Tavares over the years, is his breadth of understanding of a very complex business.
The CEO of PSA "knows all aspects of the business, which is especially useful if your reports try to snow you," says John McAllroy, a veteran car journalist and presenter on Autoline television, "You Can't Hide Nothing from him."
But perhaps most importantly, McLroy added, "This is a man who really has gas in his veins. Not many executives are left these days."  Tavares can often be found on weekends of a race track wearing a racing suit in the blue-red livery of the PSA racing team, Peugeot Sport.
According to his own number, Tavares has made over 500 races over the decades. His increasingly demanding business career forced him to give up his place as a rally driver in the 1990s. However, he still manages to embark on about 20 runway events a year and in recent years has been considered a serious contender in the European car durability series.
As with its ability to manage all aspects of the automotive business, from Financing Production, Tavares easily jumps from one car to another, one racing series to another. He earned a respectable reputation not only in the rally and endurance series, but also while piloting an assortment of classic cars, such as his own 1969 Lola T70, 1976 alpine, and Porsche 912 1966.
Despite his strength record, Tavares in a hurry to downplay his skills on the track, tells Automotive News in a 2017 interview "You quickly find out that the limit is the driver, not the car"
Every race requires a serious driver to put his life on the line, so it's probably no surprise that Tavares over the years has been prepared to take on similar career risks you are. Nowhere was this more evident than when, on August 14, 2013, on his 55th birthday, he dropped a bomb in an interview with the Bloomberg News Service.
Tavares, who had been Nissan's director since June 2005 and chief operating officer of Renault since May 2011, was increasingly disappointed to become CEO of the French automaker. His then boss, Carlos Gosn, who also heads the global Renault-Nissan alliance, made it clear that he was there to stay.
But Tavares stated that he had "energy and appetite for position # 1". Asked what he meant, the executive replied that "my experience would be good for any car company," then pointed to Ford Motor and its own cross-country rival. "Why not GM? I would be honored to lead a company like GM."
Behind the scenes, things exploded and within a week Tavares resigned. Few believe he will be out of work for long, as he demonstrates, taking up the CEO job at PSA only three months later.
At 61, Tavares will soon take the most demanding position he has ever occupied, at least as long as the PSA-Fiat Chrysler merger has passed. Partners expect things to be over by the end of 2020.
Ironically, the relationship may have happened several years ago. The merger actually happened in talks with the late Sergio Marchionne, a former Fiat Chrysler chief, Tavares said in an interview earlier this year. But the PSA chief said at the time that he already had too much on his plate. He focused on several other challenges, including the return of the French carmaker after a quarter-century absence to the US.
In a slightly more characteristic move, he outlined what he described as a "low risk" approach, "one that is expected to stretch by the middle of the next decade.
" I don't think the merger affects "said the PSA's senior executive, asking not to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of the site. But he quickly added that the deal could change just about anything.
Tavares, he emphasized," is a practical man. who knows that in the current environment, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to survive. "Success will not come to those Who play it safe, and to those like Tavares, who are willing to risk everything as long as you have a clear understanding of facing.