By on November 22, 2019

Carlos Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn, former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, has been allowed to see his wife Carole for the first time in seven months. Fortunately for Ghosn, the pair actually wanted to speak and had been complaining about this throughout their time apart. Indicted on various charges we’ve covered to death, Japanese courts decided last April that it was too big of a risk to let the couple interact. The fear was that the duo would somehow conspire or possibly tamper with evidence.

The suspension of their separation appears to be limited event, however. The Tokyo District Court only agreed to allow a single meeting after Ghosn’s legal council began pushing for softer bail conditions over the summer.  (Read More…)

By on October 24, 2019

Legal representatives for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn are requesting Japanese courts dismiss all charges against him on the grounds that prosecutors violated his rights. The filings were submitted ahead of Thursday’s pre-trial hearing before the Tokyo District Court and represent the first real look we’ve had at Ghosn’s defense — which, until now, has just involved him repeatedly professing his innocence.

The core issues focus on accusations of illegal evidence collection and a Nissan-led conspiracy to place him behind bars. But Ghosn’s legal team has also established rebuttals to the charges leveled against him. While those will only come into play if the trial moves forward, we’re skeptical that the case will be dissolved. But let’s begin a little closer to the beginning.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2019

Renault’s board of directors met today to decide the fate of CEO Thierry Bolloré. Though we should say ex-CEO, because they fired him.

As the most recent executive to become subject to the management shakeup that’s bent on removing anyone within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance with ties to defamed founder Carlos Ghosn, Bolloré called the board’s decision surprising (it wasn’t). Speaking with France’s Les Échoshe contended that he was more concerned with the wellbeing of Renault than corporate politics and expressed fears that the alliance could be falling apart as Japan aggressively seeks to remove more Ghosn-era hires.

“I appeal to the highest level of the State shareholder, guarantor of the rules of good governance, not to destabilize Renault, flagship of our French industry,” he said. “This coup is very disturbing, it is very important to understand the ins and outs of what is happening in Japan.” (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

The French media is reporting that Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré could be removed as part of a greater initiative to clean house within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. As usual, the cornerstone of the controversy stems from the executive’s close ties to Carlos Ghosn.

That relationship makes him suspect, as numerous high-ranking employees at Nissan are currently under suspicion of having helped or benefited from the alleged financial misdeeds surrounding the ousted chairman. In fact, the Japanese automaker had to select a new CEO in short order after information emerged implicating former corporate head Hiroto Saikawa — encouraging his September resignation.

Now there’s a campaign in place to distance the automaker from Ghosn-era hires and legacy staffers with deep links to him. Everyone expects Renault to do the same.  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

On Tuesday, a subset of Nissan’s board intends to request access to a list of 80 Nissan employees suspected of aiding former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in his alleged financial malfeasance. Assembled by Nissan’s former audit chief, Christina Murray, and company, the document compiles actions taken by staffers believed to have assisted Ghosn directly or attempted to impede the resulting investigations.

Among them is Hari Nada, Nissan’s vice president, who oversees the company’s legal department. Despite being instrumental in Ghosn’s November arrest by acting as a whistleblower to Japanese authorities, along with Toshiaki Onuma, his role as one of the ousted executive’s many confidants has placed him under suspicion — as did his reluctance to recuse himself from the company’s legal affairs.

Nada is now being pressured to resign. However, it’s not clear if this is the result of any actual wrongdoing or an internal power struggle happening inside the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Considering the power vacuum created by Ghosn’s arrest and the swift retirement of ex-CEO Hiroto Saikawa (who also makes the 80-person list), both scenarios seem equally plausible.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

The hunt for Nissan’s next chairman has been narrowed to three potential candidates. Their final challenge will be impressing Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. According to reports, Senard spent the better part of Tuesday interviewing Renault-Nissan veterans — via teleconference or face-to-face meetings in Paris.

Considering the laundry list of problems Nissan currently faces, it’s difficult to imagine why anybody would want the job. Maybe it’s the sizable paychecks or perhaps an eagerness to turn things around at the automaker. Either way, whoever Nissan ends up with will have at least as much as they can handle.

Let’s take a look at the candidates.  (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Nissan and its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, are on the hook for $16 million in fines. The SEC alleges that the automaker failed to disclose millions of dollars in compensation that the former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance chairman was due to receive via a 2004 board decision that allowed him to decide the compensation of high-ranking executives — including himself.

Reports from Bloomberg stipulate that Ghosn and subordinates managed to withhold over $90 million in compensation from shareholders since 2009, with the ousted CEO attempting to put another $50 million away for his retirement allowance.  (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2019

Without the glue that was Carlos Ghosn holding the Renault-Nissan Alliance together, some of the partnership’s joint-business operations are reportedly being disbanded as corporate relations continue to sour. Nissan quietly started dissolving the Office of the CEO in April, after a special corporate governance committee claimed it was one of the reasons why it was so difficult to detect Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct.

The Japanese automaker has since sought to rejigger its own management structure, as per the committee’s suggestions, however Renault intends on blocking those governance changes. Now the Financial Times is reporting that the two companies are gradually unwinding departments providing oversight for collaborative efforts related to light commercial vehicles, sales and marketing, communications and more.  (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Image: Nissan

Two proxy advisory firms have reportedly encouraged shareholders to vote against reappointing Hiroto Saikawa as Nissan’s chief executive. While it’s relatively uncommon to see voting research providers issue such an overt recommendation, it’s not unheard of.

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) suggested shareholders vote against Saikawa at Nissan’s annual general meeting later this month, citing his closeness to Carlos Ghosn as a liability. According to Reuters, the firm believes the automaker should try to distance itself from the recent past as much as possible.

“When the company needs to break from the past and build a strong board with fresh members, the reelection of Hiroto Saikawa, who has been on the board for 14 years and worked closely with Carlos Ghosn, does not appear appropriate,” ISS said in a Friday research note to investors. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2019

Nissan’s Hiroto Saikawa appears to be staying on as CEO, despite claiming late last year that he would soon step down. While not sensational news in itself, the decision is underpinned by growing animosity between the automaker and alliance partner Renault.

Back in March, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was doing damage control following the arrest of its chief architect, Carlos Ghosn — resulting in a memorandum of understanding that aimed to restore balance between the automakers and prove to the public that they were all still friends.  However, less than a month later, things began to unravel. Renault (encouraged by the French government) was, once again, pushing for integration and hoping to rejigger Nissan’s management structure.

Now the very legitimacy of Nissan’s board is being called into question.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2019

Carlos Ghosn

Auditors attempting to assess how down and dirty Carlos Ghosn’s spending habits were have reportedly become very interested in a YouTube video of a party held at the Palace of Versailles in 2014. While the clip doesn’t showcase any cash-fueled orgies or golden idol worship, it does present a extravagant party that was supposedly paid for by Renault-Nissan B.V. (RNBV). As you might recall, Ghosn’s repeated arrests in Japan were due to the alleged “mismanagement” of alliance funds.

Ghosn’s camp maintains that the event was held for business purposes — a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the alliance, which just happened to overlap with the ousted exec’s 60th birthday. Guests reportedly included a few Renault or Nissan executives scattered among roughly 160 celebrity attendees. You can watch the video yourself and decide whether or not it’s an egregious mishandling of corporate assets.  (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

Nissan is bracing for a bad year. On Tuesday, the automaker held a press conference at its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, to tell the world that it’s forecasting a 28-percent decline in operating profit this year. While that sounds bad, it comes on the heels of the company’s financial results for the 12-month period ending March 31st, 2019 — which was a dumpster fire.

Operating profit plunged 45 percent to 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion), while revenue fell 3 percent to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion). Vehicle sales were down 4.4 percent. “Today we have hit rock bottom,” CEO Hiroto Saikawa told the press, suggesting the company could rebound in a few years.  (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2019

The embattled ex-patriarch of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has posted an additional $4.5 million in bail. Beyond some new indictments regarding his alleged misappropriation of corporate funds, not much has changed regarding the case. Ghosn and his legal team continue to maintain his innocence, suggesting that Nissan orchestrated the entire ordeal as part of a industrial coup and further supported by Japanese courts that are perpetually hungry for convictions.

Unfortunately, everyone is making a pretty good case. The claims against Ghosn appear legitimate, but so do the accusations that Nissan’s entire investigation was primarily concerned with removing him from power. Similarly, Japan’s extremely high conviction rate and treatment of Ghosn have raised red flags in regard to his civil rights and whether he can expect a fair trial.  (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2019

If Nissan and Renault were a living, breathing couple, they’d be the duo all of your other friends whisper about. They’d be the couple with the big house and seemingly successful children that everyone knows fights bitterly in the evenings — screaming at each other before retiring to their separate bedrooms. The relationship, while healthy in terms of financial productivity, has grown toxic on the corporate end of things.

Less than one month after Renault’s new chairman claimed a merger would be out of the question, the French automaker is once again pushing for integration. Nissan is having none of it and plans to reject the proposal outright, according to reports from Nikkei(Read More…)

By on April 19, 2019

Nissan Motor Co. has pledged a donation of 100,000 euros ($112,000) for the restoration of the fire-kissed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. However, the company’s act of kindness is overshadowed by its rather interesting timing. Nissan’s relationship with partner Renault and the French government has grown strained since the arrest of former Alliance boss Carlos Ghosn — now back in jail after his fourth arrest and rumored to be facing indictment on new charges early next week in Japan.

Then again, the fire at Notre Dame was an extremely high-profile incident, leading to the donation of millions in charitable contributions for its repair. Where it not for the elevated tensions between the company and Renault/France, nobody would question Nissan’s motives in the slightest.  (Read More…)

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