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Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi meet to secure alliance in Ghosn's absence

A Tokyo court on Monday rejected Ghosn's request to attend Nissan's board meeting

Reuters  |  Tokyo 

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A car with the Nissan logo badge is seen on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, US | Photo: Reuters

When the three leaders of the world's top car-making alliance gather in Japan on Tuesday, they will be looking to secure a partnership that was built by former boss and then possibly imperilled by his ouster.

A Tokyo court on Monday rejected Ghosn's request to attend Nissan's board meeting, denying him a seat at the table even as the car maker looks set to bolster the alliance with France's and Motors that Ghosn drove for over two decades.

Released on a $9 million bail last week after spending more than 100 days in a Tokyo detention centre, Ghosn faces charges of under-reporting his salary at by about $82 million over nearly a decade - charges he has called "meritless".

In the wake of the scandal, has started its own review of payments to Ghosn. French prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry into how he financed his 2016 wedding at the Chateau de Versailles, French media have reported.

His dramatic arrest in November and the detention have exposed tensions between and its top shareholder Renault, muddying the outlook for the future of the alliance - the world's largest maker of automobiles, excluding heavy trucks.

"Ghosn is disappointed that the court denied his request to attend the Nissan board of directors meeting," his spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As an elected member of the board, Ghosn stands ready to fulfil his professional duties to the shareholders who elected him," the statement said.

"It is unfortunate that the meritless and unsubstantiated accusations against him have blocked his ideas and perspective from being deployed in service of the company he served for the past twenty years."

FUTURE RELATIONS

Some at Nissan had been unhappy with Ghosn's push for a deeper tie-up with Renault, which was seen as possibly including a full merger. Smaller owns 43 per cent of Nissan after rescuing the Japanese company from near-bankruptcy in 1999.

Nissan holds a 15 per cent, non-voting stake in Renault, whose top shareholder is the French government.

While Ghosn himself has cast the charges against him as a boardroom coup, there are clear signs emerging that the alliance looks set to continue.

Renault on Monday confirmed it was in talks with Nissan and Motors about setting up a new alliance body to improve their collaboration.

"The proposed arrangement will have no impact on the existence of the (alliance agreement) and the cross-shareholding structure, which will both remain in place," Renault said.

Nissan, Renault and plan to set up a joint board meeting structure under which Renault's new chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, is likely to take the chair, people with direct knowledge of the matter have told Reuters.

That would replace Dutch-based currently linking Nissan and Renault and, separately, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, the people said.

The heads of the partners will hold a news briefing at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters on Tuesday, Nissan said. That is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (0730 GMT).

First Published: Tue, March 12 2019. 11:04 IST
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