Renault refrains from ousting Ghosn

November 20, 2018 16:42 CET
UPDATED: Nov 20 22:35 CET – new story

PARIS — Embattled Carlos Ghosn will keep his posts as Renault chairman and CEO, the automaker’s board decided Tuesday.

Renault Chief Operating Officer Thierry Bollore was appointed deputy CEO, having the same powers as Ghosn, the board decided.

The board’s highest-ranked independent director, Philippe Lagayette, will chair its meetings for the time being, Renault said in a statement.

Bollore, 55, has been seen as Ghosn’s heir apparent at Renault since February when he was promoted to COO.

The soft-spoken French national from Brittany joined Renault in 2012 from supplier Faurecia, where he rose through the ranks to become vice president with responsibilities for global industry, quality and packaging. He started his career at tiremaker Michelin, working there for a number of years at the same time as Ghosn, who has called Bollore a “good candidate” to become Renault CEO.

Lagayette, 75, has been on Renault’s board since 2007 and leads the audit, risks and ethics committee as well as being part of the grouping that oversees executive compensation.

Ghosn allegations

Renault’s board also decided to request that Nissan provide all information in its possession arising from its internal investigations that led to Ghosn’s arrest for alleged financial improprieties.

Ghosn is accused of under-reporting income of about $44 million and misusing company funds at Nissan, where he was also chairman.

The developments cast doubt over the future of the long-standing Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which has been held together by Ghosn’s towering presence. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told Renault board members Monday the company is expanding its probe to the alliance’s Amsterdam-based joint venture RNBV, three people familiar with the matter said.

Ghosn, who was set to leave in 2022, had been laying the groundwork to ensure a future for the alliance, including the option of a merger. The setup has come under pressure from Nissan in recent years because of its lopsided balance of power in favor of Renault.

Bollore will be Renault’s deputy CEO with Ghosn’s powers.

Through complex cross-shareholding arrangements, Renault owns 43 percent in Nissan, including voting rights, while Nissan owns a 15 percent non-voting stake in Renault.

In a letter sent to Renault employees on Monday, Bollore expressed full support for Ghosn and pledged to preserve the alliance.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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