By on March 2, 2020

Japanese Deputy Justice Minister Hiroyuki Yoshiie reportedly traveled to Lebanon this past weekend in an attempt to convince Carlos Ghosn to give up his life on the lam and head back to Tokyo to stand trial. Considering the defamed automotive executive fled the country because he was positively convinced this would end in a conviction, we probably won’t need to issue any follow-up reports about how the meeting ended.

Ghosn has repeatedly stressed his belief that Japan aided Nissan in ousting him from the company and has no interest in giving him a fair trial — calling it a “hostage justice” system.

Of course, all the real negotiating will be done by proxy through Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan, with the pair scheduled to meet on Monday. Ghosn won’t actually be in attendance, but you had better believe he’ll be interested in the play-by-play recap. With his mind already made up on the matter, Japan will need to focus on persuading Serhan.  (Read More…)

By on February 18, 2020

Last week, Renault reported its first significant loss in a decade (€141 million) and a 3.3-percent decline in annual sales for 2019. It now expects a flat 2020 and claims it needs to commit itself to a €2 billion restructuring program over the next three years. Alliance partner Nissan also anticipates a weak year, and is doubling down on its own restructuring efforts by showcasing an eagerness to do whatever it takes to restore profitability.

However, the French government wants Renault to slow down and think about things before it starts shuttering local factories. Owner of a 15-percent stake in the automaker, it doesn’t wish to see its investment doing anything embarrassing. As such, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned the company to be exceedingly careful with how it handles business in France, urging it to avoid any measures that might negatively impact domestic employment rates.  (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2020

Internationally wanted fugitive and former automotive executive Carlos Ghosn has reportedly teamed up with Michael Ovitz, founder of Creative Artists Agency and ex-president of Walt Disney, to handle the movie or miniseries that’s definitely going to be made about his flight from Japan.

Ghosn could probably use the money, as he’s accustomed to the finer things in life. He forfeited $15 million in bail money when he skipped town, plus whatever it costs to hire an elite team of mercenaries to smuggle you halfway around the world.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2020

Tokyo prosecutors have issued warrants for the arrest of Carlos Ghosn and three Americans they claim helped him escape the country in December. His surprise arrival in Lebanon initially befuddled Japanese authorities, prompting the country to file a red notice with Interpol before releasing the latest warrant.

While a new development in the Ghosn saga, it doesn’t change much. The former executive still faces charges of financial misconduct stemming from his tenure with Nissan, but he now finds himself charged with violating Japan’s Immigration Control Law.

Japan’s take is that Ghosn fled the country to avoid justice (a backwards version of his own view). The former automotive executive and his wife, who is also wanted in Japan, have both stated publicly that they believe the country’s legal system would never allow Ghosn a fair trial, claiming officials worked with Nissan to help enact the industrial-grade coup that removed him.  (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2020

Renault has appointed the former boss of Volkswagen Group’s Seat brand, Luca de Meo, as its new chief executive. Eager to remove former CEO Thierry Bollore and further distance itself from any ties to Carlos Ghosn, the company has been without an official leader since October.

The automaker made an announcement Tuesday, saying that after a selection process led by the Governance and Compensation Committee, the Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Jean-Dominique Senard had settled on de Meo.

Clotilde Delbos, currently serving as interim CEO, will continue to assume her functions until Luca takes office at the beginning of July. Viewed as the most-likely successor since 2019, de Meo was simply waiting out the non-compete clause in his contract with VW. His official hiring still needs approval from Renault shareholders, with the next meeting taking place in April.  (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2020

Anybody with more than a casual interest in the automotive industry will tell you the relationship between Nissan and Renault is falling apart. Even the alliance’s founder, executive-on-the-run Carlos Ghosn, says it’s on the cusp of going under. But existing employees have tried to be a little more optimistic, acknowledging that the business partnership has become strained while making suggestions to correct its course.

One plan involves pushing more collaborative projects, which is one of the main reasons for forming an industrial alliance. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has already said both sides are committed to making the partnership succeed, citing joint projects as a primary focus. Alliance engineers will meet in Japan at the end of January to discuss new development programs — and attempt to revive a few that fell by the wayside.  (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2020

Despite Nissan and Renault spending much of 2019 attempting to reassure the world that their 20-year relationship was soundly intact, fractures have been impossible to hide from the public. If you want an analogy, imagine a carton of milk being left to curdle near a radiator and someone attaching a post-it note that reads “fine for drinking.”

While legitimate efforts to fix the relationship have been made (parts sharing, more collaborative projects, management changes, etc.), a lot of it has been undercut by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance attempting to cleanse itself of the old guard — many of whom had ties to former alliance chair Carlos Ghosn. At the same time, Nissan has sought autonomy from the French automaker, enacting corporate reforms to give it a bit more independence. It also has a cogency plan ready in the event it has to break from Renault entirely; reportedly, Nissan’s been updating that strategy ever since Ghosn escaped Japanese custody last month.  (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2019

Nissan’s new chief executive, Makoto Uchida, believes now is the time to reassess its corporate partnership with Renault. In case this is the first automotive-related article you’ve read this year, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is sickly. Bizarre financial scandals involving the group’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn (and others), internal power struggles, serious money troubles — the situation is rife with headaches. But Uchida says the only way to cope is to publicly recognize the elephant in the room and see what can be done.

“The alliance is critical to reach our goals,” Uchida said at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama on Monday. “We need to look at what worked within the alliance, and what didn’t, and decide how to go forward.” (Read More…)

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 28, 2019

Watching Mitsubishi return from death’s door has been less exciting than the first part of this sentence makes it sound. Part of that stems from the automaker’s position as a multinational corporation that has lost its way and not some down-on-his-luck boxer you’re supposed to be rooting for in a movie. Even if you were inclined to clap for corporate comebacks, Mitsubishi hasn’t earned its standing ovation just yet.

While the brand’s U.S. sales have improved every year since 2013, progress has been gradual. Last year, Mitsubishi moved 118,074 autos inside America — the best it has managed since before the Great Recession, but nowhere near its 2002 high of 345,915 deliveries. That might paint the situation a bit darker than it actually is, however.

Mitsubishi has actually managed to retain customers in China far better than it could in the U.S. and its European sales are higher than they’ve ever been. The Japanese firm also has a strong footprint in numerous developing markets around the world. But North America has historically been an extremely important market for Mitsubishi, and it wants its market share back, so it’s making some additional changes.  (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 22, 2019

Now that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has its upper echelon sorted, the time has come to mend the partnership properly. With the new staffers healthily distanced from the old guard of the Ghosn era, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is giving himself one year to fix things before considering the entire issue a “failure, on a personal level, and by our teams.”

Senard didn’t explain the benchmarks for success, and twelve months doesn’t allot much time to right a ship that’s been listing for several years. Rumors exist that Renault may even be looking to ditch Nissan for becoming too much of a burden. Meanwhile, the Japanese automaker’s former CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, estimated the company’s vast restructuring efforts would not significantly improve profitability for at least another year.

However, most of what we’ve heard from Nissan and Renault leadership includes a concerted effort to restore trust within the auto alliance and strengthen industrial ties. Contentious merger talks have also fallen by the wayside and are unlikely to crop up after Renault’s own profitability warning from earlier this month.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

Even though Makoto Uchida hasn’t officially assumed his role as Nissan’s new CEO, the incoming boss hasn’t wasted time reassuring employees that his main focus will be restoring the business’ financial performance. “Nissan is on the right path for recovery … although it might be a gradual process,” he told workers on Friday.

Reuters shared details of the event, adding that Uchida expressed the importance of rebuilding trust with both the public and the greater Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It’s no secret that the business relationship between the French and Japanese automakers has grown strained, leaving many wondering if the next CEO would attempt to run back into the strong arms of Renault or move the company further away.  (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…)

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