Following the arrest of top executive Carlos Ghosn, Nissan wants to put the alliance with Renault to the test. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa hinted as much when calling the business “not equal”. Still, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi are prepared to meet and the French state wants its say as well.
Japan’s news agency Kyodo reported the statements of the Nissan boss Saikawa. In his appeal to employees to explain the forced departure of Ghosn, Saikawa added he wants to see “the will of Nissan” more strongly reflected in the relations with Renault.
The French carmaker is Nissan’s biggest shareholder and holds a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, but the latter contributed about 50 percent of Renault’s net income in recent years. In turn, the Japanese hold 15 percent in its French peer but without voting rights and 34 percent in Mitsubishi Motors.
While both Nissan and Mitsubishi are distancing themselves from their formerly much celebrated CEO, Renault has stayed faithful to Ghosn, who formally is still the CEO. The power struggle is brewing on all sides however and Kyodo reports French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire having expressed that it is “desirable for the alliance to continue to be led by a person from Renault”.
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Initially in 1999, Ghosn was tasked by Renault with saving Nissan from bankruptcy. He was the central axle of a partnership, which also involved the French government that is the top shareholder in Renault with a stake of about 15%.
Renault-Nissan took over Mitsubishi last year and had since made big plans of merging ever closer (we reported). Their manufacturing alliance is planning to release 12 new electrified vehicles by 2022, as well as working on solid-state batteries. Last year the triade sold about 10.6 million vehicles, which is only slightly less than the leader of the global car industry, Volkswagen with 10.7 million. However, these plans had been driven by Ghosn and while all three carmakers agreed to meet, it remains unclear, where the alliance will go.
Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan last week for allegedly underreporting his remuneration by around 5 billion yen ($44 million) for five years. He received nearly 10 billion yen during that period. He denies all charges but both Nissan and Mitsubishi have stripped him of all posts. Renault has launched an investigation with the outcome expected this week, said Le Maire.