By on January 24, 2019

After an unceremonious booting from the chairman role at Nissan and Mitsubishi, Carlos Ghosn’s departure from alliance member Renault was more orderly. As expected, the French automaker’s board accepted the jailed executive’s resignation Thursday, handing over the CEO and chairman roles to Thierry Bolloré and Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard, respectively.

After building an alliance marrying two major automakers, saving Renault and bolstering Nissan in the process, Ghosn had to leave to save the relationship. There really wasn’t much choice. Tokyo judges kiboshed several attempts to secure bail for the industry titan, who currently resides in a sparse jail cell awaiting trial. The French government, which holds a 15 percent stake in Renault, withdrew its support for the exec last week.

The alliance is Senard’s baby now.

While Renault named Bolloré as acting CEO following Ghosn’s Nov. 19 arrest, the full weight of managing the massive, conjoined operation falls on Senard, whose job also includes mending the sudden rift between Europe and Japan.

Speaking at the Davo economic summit, French Finance Minister Bruno La Maire told Bloomberg that job one “is to consolidate the alliance between Renault and Nissan.”

“I am sure the alliance will stay,” he stated.

Speaking of Senard, Renault said in a media release that it’s board “decides to give its Chairman full responsibility for managing the Alliance on behalf of Renault, in liaison with the Chief Executive Officer,” adding, “the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Renault will have to evaluate and, if necessary, change Renault’s governance in order to ensure the transition to the new structure.”

Image: Michelin

Senard, 65, who was expected to step down from his position as Michelin head later this year, is viewed as a far less combative figure than Ghosn, enjoying a good relationship with the French government. Word like “reserved” and “subdued” are often used to describe the exec. At Michelin, Senard garnered high praise for open dialogue with the tire maker’s workers union. As for Bolloré, the exec started his professional career at Michelin, eventually moving to Renault in 2012.

For Ghosn, the now ex-exec faces a months-long wait before the beginning of his trail. The former alliance head faces charges of breach of trust and underreporting his income to the tune of nearly $80 million, though ongoing investigations have turned up other troubling financial discrepancies. Last week, Nissan issued a release stating Ghosn received improper payments from a Netherlands-based Nissan-Mitsubishi joint venture.

It’s not the way Ghosn, whose grip on the alliance was already lessening in the lead-up to his retirement, expected his career to end.

[Images: Nissan, Michelin]

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15 Comments on “Ghosn Gone: Jailed Exec Hands Over Renault, Closing the Last Chapter in his Alliance Reign...”


  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    quality headline pun on the Renault Alliance.

  • avatar
    mdanda

    Reading between the lines, especially after the NYTimes version of this story, it seems that the French (Renault) were attempting to exert too much control over the Japanese (Nissan), and the Japanese are pushing back. And this is how they push back.

    One thing for sure about Japanese culture–you do not want to make them angry. They are NOT the West.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Which political terrorist did Carlos Ghosn torque off?
    This is an obvious political hit.

    • 0 avatar
      FOG

      It doesn’t appear to be something Ghosn did. He just isn’t Japanese. Japanese companies will use foreign intelligence, but they will not be subordinate to them. They will also not willingly let a foreign company like Renault be in control.

      I am surprised that human rights activists haven’t jumped all over this, but it is easier to attack governments with a belief in freedom of speech.

      • 0 avatar
        cdotson

        Human rights activists only give a damn if those whose rights are violated have some manner of victim status. Ghosn is a wealthy European national that cannot lay claim to ethnic/racial/religious persecution. Near the bottom of the victim totem pole; could only be lower if he appeared more white.

        • 0 avatar
          FOG

          @cdotson,

          I agree with you, but I am also thinking the Japanese see this as a way to get away with it. No One considers that if it is happening to Ghosn, what are they doing to the poorer people in their country?

      • 0 avatar
        JoDa

        “They will also not willingly let a foreign company like Renault be in control”

        Lordy! Can you imagine being controlled by Renault? Now I get it. Carry on.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s clear Ghosn has been singled out for “special treatment”. However after reading his statement and profession of innocence, I believe his plea confirmed he did what “they” claim he did.

      Ghosn “borrowed” company money to cover his precarious personal financial position after the 2008 crash. “Borrowed”, “unauthorised borrowing”, “stealing” whatever you want to call it, he clearly used his position and influence to rescue his personal finances, not a privilege available to the unwashed masses.

      His deferred income was explained away in such a way that it was obvious he believed he is worth more than Nissan were paying him (after turning down a generous offer from GM) and he arranged to “make up the difference” after he retired. Once again not an arrangement you and I could muster even if we tried.

      IMHO Ghosn allowed greed and privilege get the better of him and yes, somehow he managed to seriously piss off someone powerful in a way that lead them to find as many skeletons in Ghosn closet as they could in order to lock him up and throw away the key.

      Ghosn’s extended detention in Jail is atrocious, someone is clearly hell bent on making him suffer as much as is humanly possible.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I have this gut feeling (and it is only that, a gut feeling) that the Alliance will unravel.

    Just like the empires of yore, where a strong and cunning emperor managed to merge together tribes with significant differences (culture, language, race, etc),once that the emperor vanishes the empire falls apart.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      Yeah, I suspect the men behind the curtain will do what they can to make it unravel. This poor sap has been thrust between two packs of fighting dogs. No glory to be had and not a situation to envy IMO.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    ““I am sure the alliance will stay,” he stated…”

    Stick a fork in it, the alliance is done.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Whether the alliance breaks up in practical terms or not, the following will remain true:

      “Renault currently has a 43.4 percent (fully voting) stake in Nissan and Nissan holds a 15 percent (non-voting) stake in Renault effectively giving Renault control.”

  • avatar
    TS020

    Hey, if the alliance breaks up then we might see some enthusiast cars like it’s the 90’s before the company goes belly up because only 6 people bought a new Silvia.


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