I said I would not write more about this saga until the court cases against Carlos Ghosn in Japan were settled and announced.
However, that decision is aborted after it was announced tonight that Carlos Ghosn, under intense pressure from the French Government, has announced from his Tokyo jail cell that he will formally resign as Renault Chairman & CEO.
It’s likely that Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard will be appointed Chairman, and interim CEO Thierry Bollore will be confirmed in his current role.
I have reported that this whole mess is a very clumsy coup d’etat by Nissan to oust Ghosn before he could finalise a direct merger of Renault and Nissan. This is the one single truth of this whole affair.
Never mind the mis-reporting of salaries; and Ghosn’s supposed personal financial losses being transferred to a Nissan subsidiary, that's all a smoke screen.
Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, and Nissan has a non-voting share of 15% in Renault. Nissan also owns a 34% share of the ailing Mitsubishi Motors.
By sales volume, Nissan is now the strongest of the three partners in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, and it does not want its position to be diluted by a merger with Renault, which under Ghosn’s leadership would have been managed to Renault’s advantage.
Like I said this is the only truth in this whole matter – everything else is bullshit, and a clumsy way to get rid of Ghosn, Nissan’s mortal enemy.
Ghosn's multiple requests for bail, and even offering to surrender his passports, and wear an ankle tag, have been continuously denied by Japanese judges.
Twenty years ago Renault boss Louis Schweitzer sent Carlos Ghosn to Japan to rescue newly-acquired Nissan from near bankruptcy. He achieved that feat in less than two years.
He initiated the Renault-Nissan Alliance, but under pressure from the Japanese government Renault and Nissan agreed to include Mitsubishi in the arrangement.
One thing you must understand about Mitsubishi Motors. It is a tiny division of the giant Mitsubishi Group, which basically does not want anything to do with the automotive division.
It soaks up funds, hasn’t made a profit in decades, and its rescue would have cost Mitsubishi Group zillions. When Ghosn suggested adding Mitsubishi to the automotive alliance, both Mitsubishi Group and the Japanese government breathed a huge sigh of relief.
So, does that mean the Japanese court actions against Ghosn will continue, now he is out of the way?
Well, there are two scenarios – the first is that the court cases will go ahead, for months, possibly a year or more until all parties are exhausted - as Ghosn has no intention of pleading guilty to any of the charges.
Or, second – miraculously all charges will be suddenly withdrawn, and Ghosn will be kicked out of his freezing jail cell into a freezing Japanese winter landscape.
Remember, the most important element of Japanese culture is avoiding ‘loss-of-face’, so hopefully the architects of the conclusion to this sad and despicable attempt to sully the reputation of one of the automotive world’s most successful executives, will be slicker than the poorly-resolved, and very public attempt to get rid of him.
Hopefully, before he dies in prison - now that would be major loss-of-face!
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