Renault's $4.2 billion loss in 2009 is its biggest in history

Europe's third-largest car maker, Renault posted a €3.1 billion ($4.2 billion) for 2009, the biggest loss in its history and warned that it expects economic conditions to remain difficult in 2010 with a European market that could contract by 10 per cent.

Renault, which is France's second-largest automaker, declined to offer a 2010 earnings forecast, saying conditions would remain ''difficult,'' but did forecast a 10-per cent decline in the European auto market this year as car scrappage schemes of respective European countries come to an end.

Renault posted a net loss of €3.1 billion for 2009, its first annual loss since 1996. In 2008, it had recorded a net profit of €599 million.

Revenue declined by nearly 11 per cent, to €33.7 billion, the second consecutive year of decline, and vehicle sales fell 3.1 per cent to 2.31 million.

Renault's operating loss expanded last year to €955 million compared to €117 million in 2008. The company did however reduce its net financial debt from €7.9 billion to €5.9 billion.

Half of last year's loss of €1.56 billion came from stakes in Japanese car maker Nissan, Sweden's truck maker Volvo and Russian carmaker Avtovaz.