Carlos Ghosn likely to resign as Renault chairman

Roman Schwartz
January 27, 2019

Embattled Renault boss Carlos Ghosn has resigned, France's economy minister has said in the face of a board meeting at which the French carmaker is to appoint his successor.

The news was first announced by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in an interview with Bloomberg held on Thursday at the The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and later confirmed by Renault.

Renault said Michelin's Jean-Dominique Senard had been appointed chairman, and Thierry Bolloré chief executive.

A Tokyo court on Tuesday rejected another bail request filed by Ghosn, despite assuring prosecutors that he would wear a monitoring device and stay in Japan. He's been charged with understating his income by tens of millions of dollars at Nissan and transferring personal trading losses to the company.

Ghosn was widely credited with turning around the fortunes of Renault's South American division in the late 1990s and reached near-hero status in Japan for his subsequent role in reviving the ailing Nissan brand.

France, who is Renault's largest stakeholder, has insisted that a new chief should come on board to ensure stability.

Senard will represent Renault in its powerful alliance with Japanese carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi, the French company added in a statement.

Renault had kept Ghosn on as chairman even after its Japanese alliance partners Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. dismissed him from those posts.

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But the 64-year-old had held on to the top job at Renault, which has been run on an interim basis by one of his deputies while he languishes in a Japanese jail.

While Nissan and Mitsubishi led criticism of Ghosn, quickly removing him from official roles, Renault stood by its man until this week. While being asked about the probable integration, the Nissan CEO, HirotaSaikawa said the reporters, "Since I have not heard this directly, I can not comment".

The French government revealed that Ghosn made the decision last night after reports suggested he would be ousted from Renault this morning in an emergency board meeting.

Renault initially stood by Ghosn after his November 19 arrest, naming temporary leadership.

The French government owns about 15 percent of Renault SA, making it an influential voice in its handling.

Renault board members and Ghosn's legal team are reviewing issues including his non-competition agreement and pension benefits, people familiar with the matter said.

Ghosn, previously the most influential man in the global vehicle industry, had resigned from both roles at Renault late on Wednesday as he remains behind bars in Japan awaiting trial.

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