Renault appoints two interim heads, retains Ghosn as chairman

Daniel Fowler
November 21, 2018

According to a new report from the Financial Times, Nissan's board opposed Ghosn's plan to merge Nissan and Renault-a plan that was set to materialize within months, according to the paper's sources.

After a meeting, the board said it appointed the company's No. 2 executive, Thierry Bolloré, to serve as deputy CEO on a temporary basis and Philippe Lagayette, Renault's lead independent director, to act as interim chairman.

Carmaker Renault said it remained focused on its alliance partnership with Japanese companies Nissan and Mitsubishi and that its corporate governance procedures were fully functional, following the arrest of Carlos Ghosn.

Japan's Nikkei business daily reported on Tuesday that Ghosn had received share price-linked compensation of about 4 billion yen over a five-year period to March 2015 but that it went unreported in Nissan's financial reports. There have also been reports that he charged travel expenses for family vacations.

Renault is opting to wait for the Japanese investigation, allowing Ghosn to keep his job as CEO and position as board chairman.

Renault board asks Nissan to share Ghosn evidence

Paris and Tokyo have been scrambling to contain the fall-out from the arrest, with the finance ministers of both countries declaring strong support for "one of the greatest symbols of Franco-Japanese industrial cooperation". Saikawa did say that Nissan was committed to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and that was echoed in Renault's statement. Mitsubishi said Monday it would move to replace Ghosn as chairman of that company, although it's unclear when that may happen.

Nissan has become the alliance's key player, however, posting sales of ¥12 trillion ($106 billion) past year compared with Renault's €59 billion ($67 billion).

Ghosn's leadership of the alliance - which began in 1999 as a means of rescuing Nissan from near-bankruptcy - deserves credit for "being the brainchild" behind a complex yet dynamic alliance that has proven beneficial to all OEMs involved, Anil Goyal, executive vice president of operations for Black Book, told AFN.

Even when his reputation was sky-high, he attracted criticism for a flashy lifestyle at odds with traditional Japanese corporate culture and over his salary - an estimated €13 million in total past year.

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It's home to horse farms and some homes in the town of 10,000 are valued at around $750,000 each, AP noted. But he insisted, "We have no reason to believe that anyone in the community is in any danger at this time".

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