Renault board meets to choose successor to Ghosn

The French carmaker has confirmed an emergency board meeting is planned for Jan 24, but declined to comment on its agenda.
The French carmaker has confirmed an emergency board meeting is planned for Jan 24, but declined to comment on its agenda.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - Renault's board will meet on Thursday (Jan 24) to replace chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn, in a move that could help ease tensions with alliance partner Nissan following Ghosn's arrest in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

Ghosn resigned from Renault late on Wednesday, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg Television in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Carlos Ghosn just resigned last night,” said Le Maire.

The board meeting will start at 0900 GMT (5pm Singapore time) and consider the proposed appointment of outgoing Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard as chairman and the promotion of Ghosn's deputy Thierry Bollore to CEO, three sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

The French carmaker has confirmed an emergency board meeting is planned for Thursday, but declined to comment on its agenda.

The decision, two months after Ghosn's Nov 19 arrest and swift dismissal as Nissan chairman, turns a page on his two decades at the helm of the partnership he transformed into a global carmaking giant, following Renault's acquisition of a near-bankrupt Nissan in 1999.

Ghosn has been charged with failing to disclose more than US$80 million (S$108 million) in additional Nissan compensation for 2010-18 that he had arranged to be paid later. Nissan director Greg Kelly and the Japanese company itself have also been indicted.

Both men deny the deferred pay agreements were illegal or required disclosure. Ghosn has also denied a separate breach of trust charge over personal investment losses he temporarily transferred to Nissan in 2008. Nissan has said it takes the matter seriously and pledged to improve corporate governance.

Ghosn remains in custody after all his bail requests were rejected by the Japanese courts.

 
 

Mr Senard, 65, faces the immediate task of soothing relations with Nissan, which is 43.4 per cent-owned by Renault and the junior partner in the alliance despite making more sales.

Since Ghosn's arrest, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has sought to weaken Renault's control and resisted its attempts to nominate new directors to the Japanese company's board.

Nissan currently owns a 15 per cent non-voting stake in its French parent and 34 per cent in Mitsubishi Motors, the third major partner in their manufacturing alliance.