The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announced a new joint board as they seek a “new start” following the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn. Renault Chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, will head the new board structure and replace two previous bodies based in the Netherlands. One joins Renault and Nissan while the other combines Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.
Jean-Dominique Senard also announced that he is not looking to replace Ghosn as head of Nissan but rather be a “clear candidate” as vice-president of the Japanese car maker. Current Nissan boss, Hiroto Saikawa, said that the new board represented “a true partnership on equal footing”.
Senard also told reporters, “We have decided to join our forces again, to enhance the strength of our collaboration. This is a new start for the alliance.”
Story Of Betrayal
Ghosn rescued Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999 and is credited with creating the three-way alliance which now outperforms all other rival groups. Stakeholders at Nissan were unhappy with Ghosn when he pushed for a deeper tie-in with Renault as it appeared to include a possible merger. While Renault is smaller than Nissan, they bought 43% of the Japanese giant before the 1999 bailout. As it stands, Nissan holds a 15% non-voting stake in Renault whose biggest shareholder is the French government.
Former man in charge, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested and removed from the driving seat of the alliance following the much-publicised scandal. He was released on $9m (nearly R130m) bail after spending more than 3 months in a Tokyo detention centre. Ghosn faces charges of under-reporting his salary from the Japanese automaker by approximately $82m over a period close to 10 years.
In addition, he was also charged with “aggravated breach of trust” over an alleged scheme where Ghosn tried to transfer foreign exchange losses onto Nissan’s books. As part of the scheme he also allegedly used company funds to repay a Saudi contact who put up collateral for those contracts.
A recent interview with AFP from inside a Tokyo detention centre confirms that Ghosn said his arrest was a “story of betrayal” due to resentment from the Japanese carmaker. He alleges that his downfall was plotted because of “opposition and anxiety” over bringing Nissan and Renault closer together.
The 65-year-old wanted to attend a board meeting in Tokyo but was the court barred his request. Even though Ghosn was fired almost immediately when the allegations first surfaced, he remains a board member until April 8. It is at this time that a meeting of shareholders will likely remove him.
What The Future Holds For Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi
The scandal certainly left the future of the alliance uncertain as speculation grew that the partnership could unravel. However, leaders from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi said that all three companies will act as the head of the alliance. No-one has been named chairman yet of Nissan and it remains unclear who will take the responsibility.
At the very least, they are starting from anew looking ahead and putting the negativity in the rear-view mirror. As Senard recently stated, “We are fostering a new start and our future lies in the efficiency of this alliance.” The Alliance has learned from the past and they plan to move forward in such a way that will only benefit the auto giant and all its partners.