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Renault hands reins to Bollore

In charge: Renault Group chief operating officer Thierry Bollore (left) has been tapped by the Renault board to run the company while the Carlos Ghosn (right) saga is investigated.

Ghosn remains at Renault, but board appoints temporary chief pending inquiry

21 Nov 2018

RENAULT’S board of directors stopped short of firing chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn at a meeting in Paris today but handed chief operating officer Thierry Bollore interim powers to run the company while Mr Ghosn was “temporarily incapacitated”.
 
European media reports say the French government – a 15 per cent stakeholder in Renault Group – wants Mr Ghosn gone after the controversial head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was arrested in Japan this week for financial misconduct.
 
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire was quoted as saying Mr Ghosn was no longer in a position to run the company.
 
In a statement released after the meeting, the Renault board said it had decided to ask its partner Nissan to “provide all information in their possession arising from the internal investigations related to Mr Ghosn”.
 
The board appeared to pour cold water on speculation of an Alliance split, saying: “The board endorsed the support expressed by the Nissan management to the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which remains the priority of the group.”
 
Mr Ghosn and Nissan representative director Greg Kelly were taken into custody by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office after a whistleblower triggered an investigation into Mr Ghosn’s financial affairs.
 
Mr Ghosn, who is chairman of Nissan as well as Renault and Mitsubishi, was accused of underreporting his income in a Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report.
 
He is also reported to be under investigation for allegedly receiving a number of luxury houses around the world, paid for by the company.
 
Mr Kelly has been accused of conspiring to help Mr Ghosn in these financial misrepresentations.
 
Japanese prosecutors raided Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokahama after Mr Ghosn’s arrest, seeking evidence.
 
Nissan, which held its own investigation, promptly announced it would fire Mr Ghosn as chairman and representative director on Thursday.
 
In Paris, the hastily called board meeting was chaired by independent director Philippe Lagayette in the absence of Mr Ghosn.
 
The board members said later they were unable to comment on the evidence “seemingly gathered” against Mr Ghosn by Nissan and Japanese judicial authorities, but were seeking more information.
 
They said that Mr Ghosn remained chairman and CEO of Renault Group, but that Mr Bollore would be temporarily elevated to the new role of deputy CEO pending the outcome of the Ghosn investigation.
 
The directors said they would meet regularly to “protect the interests of Renault and the sustainability of the Alliance”.
 
At Renault Group, Mr Ghosn has had a prickly relationship with the French government which is a significant shareholder in the company – a legacy of tough times when the government rode to the rescue of France’s oldest car-maker.
 
Government board members have on several occasions voted against pay rises for Mr Ghosn at annual general meetings, although this year they approved a pay raise that took Mr Ghosn’s remuneration from Renault to a hefty €7.4 million ($A11.7m).
 
On top of that, he gets $A14.5 million from Nissan and a salary from Mitsubishi.
 
According to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, Mr Ghosn has been accused of under-reporting his salary by ¥44 billion ($A54m).

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