Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Renault Strips Ghosn Loyalist of Executive Role

Nissan Renault to rework alliance Renault chairman Jean Dominique Senard and Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa at a joint news conference in Yokohama Japan
Orlando Vargas | 15 March, 2019, 16:16

The heads of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors have agreed to form of a new board of management for the three-headed automaking alliance.

The notice says the agenda also includes the election of Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as a Nissan director, on the condition that Ghosn is ousted.

Ghosn, who has not spoken to media since his release, put in a request with a Tokyo court on Monday to attend Nissan's board meeting, but he was refused permission.

Senard appeared with Saikawa at Tuesday's board meeting at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters to drive home the message that the French-Japanese auto alliance remains strong.

Nissan is considering naming Sadayuki Sakakibara, former chairman of the Japan Business Federation and co-chair of a Nissan government committee, as the chief of the board.

Ghosn owns more than 3 million Nissan shares, or somewhat less than 0.1 percent of total shares, according to the most recent disclosure.

It has seemingly relinquished this right, for now at least, in order to improve its relationship with Nissan.

Nissan has no voting rights as far as Renault is concerned. He has been let out on bail under conditions that he should remain in Japan and should not destroy evidence.

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In a complicated management structure, Renault - itself 15 per cent held by the French state - owns a 43 per cent stake in Nissan.

Ghosn has denied the charges.

He believes that the accusations against him, which he has frequently described as "meritless and unsubstantiated", should not prevent him from giving his input into a company he saved from the brink.

Ghosn's dramatic arrest in November has caused concerns about the future of the three-way alliance, the world's largest maker of automobiles excluding heavy trucks.

The first two charges relate to the alleged under-reporting of his salary in documents to shareholders to the tune of nine billion yen ($81 million) over a period of eight years. The court apparently saw his coming in contact with other Nissan officials as a risk. French media have also reported that prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry into how he financed his 2016 wedding at the Château de Versailles.

The event had already attracted public attention for its opulence and Marie Antoinette-themed costumes.

Ghosn's lawyer in France, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, said the executive "stands ready" to repay the money, saying his client was "not aware he owed it because he had not been billed".

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