Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi pledge new start | Business

Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishihave pledged a “new start” for the world’s top carmaking alliance, breaking up the all-powerful chairmanship previously occupied by ousted boss Carlos Ghosn in a move designed to put the three motor companies on a more equal footing.

The arrest and removal of Ghosn, who is credited for rescuing Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999, had left the future of the alliance uncertain with speculation the partnership could unravel. Nissan said Ghosn wielded too much power, creating a lack of oversight and corporate governance.

Ghosn was released on $9m (£6.8m) bail last week after spending more than 100 days in a Tokyo detention centre. He faces charges of under-reporting his salary at the Japanese carmaker by about $82m over nearly a decade – charges he has called “meritless”.

The three companies said Jean-Dominique Senard, the chairman of Renault, would serve as the head of the alliance but – in a critical sign of the rebalancing – he will not be chairman of Nissan. It is unclear who will take that job, which has been vacant since November, when Ghosn was first arrested.

“We are fostering a new start of the alliance,” Senard said at a news conference.

“Our future lies in the efficiency of this alliance,” he said after a board meeting at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama.

Senard said he would not seek to be chairman of Nissan, but believed he was a “natural candidate” to be vice-chairman.

Ghosn, who has not spoken to media since his release, put in a request with a Tokyo court on Monday to attend Nissan’s board meeting, but he was refused permission.

Under the terms of his bail – which include giving up his three passports and having no smartphone access to the internet – he needed the court’s approval to attend.

In the wake of the scandal, Renault has started its own review of payments to Ghosn. French media have also reported that prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry into how he financed his 2016 wedding at the Château de Versailles.

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His dramatic arrest and lengthy detention exposed tensions between Nissan and its leading shareholder, Renault, complicating the outlook for a partnership that is the world’s largest maker of automobiles, excluding heavy trucks.

Some at Nissan had been unhappy with Ghosn’s push for a deeper tie-up with Renault, which was seen as possibly including a full merger. Renault, which is smaller than Nissan, bought 43% of the Japanese giant before the 1999 rescue.

Nissan holds a 15% non-voting stake in Renault, , whose biggest shareholder is the French government.

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