Renault owns 46% of American Motors Corp., and in Detroit, AMC President Joseph E. Cappy said: "Everyone at American Motors is shocked and deeply saddened by the death of [Georges Besse]. . . . Mr. Besse was a strong supporter of American Motors, and his counsel will be deeply missed."
Besse was the fifth president of Renault since the government expropriated it in 1945 and jailed its president, Louis Renault, for collaborating with the Germans during World War II. Premier Laurent Fabius, a Socialist, appointed Besse in January, 1985, after Renault, once one of the most profitable companies in France, showed a loss of 12.5 billion francs (about $2 billion at the present rate of exchange).
The turnaround at Renault, however, had antagonized the labor unions because Besse accomplished most of reductions in losses by cutting jobs. Barely a few months after taking over the company, Besse announced that he would eliminate 21,000 jobs from the work force of 160,000.