Ghosn Gone: Jailed Exec Hands Over Renault, Closing the Last Chapter in His Alliance Reign

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ghosn gone jailed exec hands over renault closing the last chapter in his alliance

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.”

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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  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jan 24, 2019

    "“I am sure the alliance will stay,” he stated..." Stick a fork in it, the alliance is done.

    • Conundrum Conundrum on Jan 24, 2019

      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."

  • TS020 TS020 on Jan 25, 2019

    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.

  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.
  • Marvin Im a current owner of a 2012 Golf R 2 Door with 5 grand on the odometer . Fun car to drive ! It's my summer cruiser. 2006 GLI with 33,000 . The R can be money pit if service by the dealership. For both cars I deal with Foreign car specialist , non union shop but they know their stuff !!! From what I gather the newer R's 22,23' too many electronic controls on the screen, plus the 12 is the last of the of the trouble free ones and fun to drive no on screen electronics Maze !
  • VoGhost It's very odd to me to see so many commenters reflexively attack an American company like this. Maybe they will be able to find a job with BYD or Vinfast.