Mitsubishi follows Nissan in ousting Ghosn as chairman

November 26, 2018 11:29 CET

TOKYO — Mitsubishi Motors followed top shareholder Nissan in removing Carlos Ghosn as its chairman on Monday, following his arrest in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

Mitsubishi’s decision came after a 70-minute meeting of its board. Ghosn, who has been detained since being picked up by prosecutors Nov. 19, did not attend.

CEO Osamu Masuko will become temporary chairman until a shareholders’ meeting is held, the Japanese automaker said in a statement.

Nissan owns a controlling 34 percent stake in the smaller Japanese automaker.

Ghosn’s ouster from Mitsubishi casts a longer shadow over the future direction of the mammoth Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. Since Renault bought its controlling stake in Nissan, the alliance has subsumed Mitsubishi and other automakers and expanded into the world’s biggest auto empire, with global sales of 10.6 million vehicles in 2017.

Ghosn became chairman of Mitsubishi after Nissan took control in late 2016, displacing Masuko who was then chairman and CEO. Masuko remained CEO and representative director at the time.

Mitsubishi’s eight-member board includes Ghosn and two other directors dispatched from Nissan. Masuko is its only director from Mitsubishi Motors. The board has one director from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and another from trading house Mitsubishi Corp.

Two independent outside directors round out the Mitsubishi Motors board. Ghosn will keep his seat on the board as a director until he resigns or is voted off by shareholders.

Ghosn and fellow Nissan director Greg Kelly were arrested last week and are under investigation for allegedly under-reporting Ghosn’s income and misusing company assets.

At a Nov. 22 emergency meeting, Nissan’s board removed Ghosn as chairman and stripped both Ghosn and Kelly of their status as representative directors with special rights to legally represent the company in business transactions. Both men remain directors on the board, pending a shareholder vote to remove them. Nissan has not announced when that may take place.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com. — Follow Hans on

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