TOKYO/PARIS (Reuters) – Renault executives and French government officials were planning to meet Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa in Japan yesterday, Japanese media said, as the automakers consider their partnership in the wake of alliance Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.
Mr Ghosn, arrested and detained in Tokyo since Nov 19, has been indicted in Japan on charges of under-reporting his salary for eight years through March 2018, and temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan Motor during the global financial crisis.
Nissan ousted him as chairman following his arrest, with Mitsubishi Motor – the third member of the automaking alliance – soon following suit.
Mr Ghosn, however, continues to chair Renault, where he is also CEO, as well as the alliance.
The visiting French delegation is seeking an explanation from Nissan’s management regarding its corporate governance in the wake of Mr Ghosn’s arrest, the Nikkei business daily reported, without citing sources.
Emmanuel Moulin, chief of staff to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Martin Vial, who heads the ministry’s state holding agency and is also a Renault director, were likely to discuss potential candidates for Mr Ghosn’s successor at Renault, a person with knowledge of the issue told Reuters.
The French government declined to comment on the itinerary for the delegation. Nissan could not be immediately reached.
Renault, under increasing government pressure to name a new CEO and chairman, is planning to hold a board meeting later this week to begin the process of appointing one or more successors to Mr Ghosn, three people briefed on the process have told Reuters.
Jean-Dominique Senard, who is soon to step down as CEO of tyre maker Michelin, is likely to replace Mr Ghosn as Renault chairman, according to two sources.
The French state and its advisers are also considering candidates for the Renault CEO role currently occupied on an interim basis by Mr Ghosn’s deputy Thierry Bollore.