Saturday 21 September 2019

Renault-Nissan leaders in summit amid Ghosn crisis

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn

Maki Shiraki

The head of Nissan and the acting CEO of Renault are holding talks during a two-day meeting of their car-making partnership amid a crisis in relations sparked by the arrest of long-time alliance supremo Carlos Ghosn.

The meeting between Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Renault deputy CEO Thierry Bollore is their first since Mr Ghosn's November 19 detention over financial misconduct allegations.

Renault, Nissan and alliance spokespeople all declined to comment on the gathering in Amsterdam, beyond confirming that Mr Saikawa would attend. No announcements are planned.

The sit-down comes a day after Mr Saikawa rebuffed Renault's demand for an early shareholder meeting that would have offered the French car-maker a chance to weigh in on Mr Ghosn's replacement as Nissan chairman as well as on other board appointments at its Japanese partner.

Renault owns 43.4pc of Nissan, whose 15pc stake in its French parent carries no voting rights. Nissan, in turn, controls Mitsubishi via a 34pc holding.

Mr Ghosn was charged in Japan last week alongside alleged accomplice Greg Kelly and Nissan itself over their alleged failure to declare $43m (€37.8m) in deferred income that Mr Ghosn had arranged to be paid while chairman and CEO of the Japanese car firm.

Both men remain in custody and have had limited opportunity to respond to the allegations or defend themselves publicly.

The scandal has shaken the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, with Mr Saikawa calling for changes to weaken Renault's control as he moved to oust Mr Ghosn in the week of his arrest.

Mr Saikawa planned to discuss changes in alliance management with Mr Bollore, sources familiar with the matter said - including a new leadership troika in which the three companies would be equal partners.

Under current agreements, Renault ultimately controls the alliance board. A meeting last month failed to name an interim leader for the partnership.

The Amsterdam talks could also provide Mr Saikawa with an opportunity to convince Renault executives of the gravity of Mr Ghosn's alleged misconduct, which was discovered during an in-house investigation by the Japanese car-maker.

Top managers from across the alliance will be present for scheduled monthly operational sessions.

The broader meetings will discuss difficulties that have arisen within some alliance vehicle and powertrain programmes since the scandal erupted, one source said.

Renault directors were briefed last week on the Nissan investigation that led to Mr Ghosn's arrest but reiterated their earlier decision to keep him in office as the French car-maker's chairman and CEO, while temporarily delegating his executive role to Bollore. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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