Nissan may ask ex-Toray boss Sakakibara to chair board meetings

15 March, 2019, 16:12 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Sepehri attends a news conference in Paris France on Oct. 6 2017. Charles Platiau  Reuters

The French government - the largest shareholder in Nissan's partner Renault SA - had sought to have new Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard take the post to maintain influence over the Japanese company, people familiar with the matter said earlier.

The four-member board will comprise Senard, Nissan President and CEO Hiroto Saikawa, Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko and Renault CEO Thierry Bollore, as stated by the four in their first joint press conference Tuesday.

Ghosn's November arrest and dismissal as Nissan chairman, following an internal investigation, inflamed tensions with 43.4 per cent-owner Renault that have begun to ease since his forced resignation from the French auto maker in January.

That culminated in the formation this week of a new governance board for the alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi.

The shuffling of key executives underscores the unwinding of a power structure built during nearly two decades by Mr Ghosn, who is accused of falsifying financial records and breach of trust by Japanese prosecutors.

This is a "new start" for the alliance, insisted the Frenchman.

Ghosn was released on a $9 million bail only last week after more than 100 days in detention.


Mr Ghosn also handpicked former Nissan executives Mitsuhiko Yamashita and Vincent Cobee to help him rebuild Mitsubishi after its fuel-efficiency scandal. He will be kept under camera surveillance and will have limited access to computers.

Senard told reporters that Ghosn is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

His request and subsequent appeal were both rejected by the Tokyo District Court as part of his bail agreement prohibits him from contacting with Nissan executives or others potentially involved in the case against him. This has always been an issue for Nissan executives, who believe the larger Japanese automaker shouldn't be controlled by the small European brand.

Although Ghosn has been dismissed as chairman at Nissan, he remains on the board.

As boss of Renault, he took what many observers at the time thought was a gamble by saving Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy and tying it to the French firm.

In a complicated management structure, Renault - itself 15 per cent held by the French state - owns a 43 per cent stake in Nissan.

Senard cemented this idea saying he had no desire to be Nissan's chairman, but would instead be an "natural candidate" for vice chair.

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