November 29, 2018 / 11:18 AM / a year ago

Renault-Nissan crisis meeting fails to name interim boss

AMSTERDAM/TOKYO (Reuters) - Renault and Nissan vowed to stick by their industrial alliance on Thursday but failed to name an interim boss to stand in for Chairman Carlos Ghosn, whose arrest has threatened the French carmaker’s control of the partnership.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi headquarters building is pictured in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

The two companies and Nissan-controlled Mitsubishi Motors “emphatically reiterated” their commitment to the alliance, as executives met in Amsterdam for the first time since Ghosn’s Nov. 19 arrest over misconduct allegations.

But attempts by Renault to transfer Ghosn’s chairmanship of the Renault-Nissan board to his French deputy Thierry Bollore appeared to have foundered.

There are no plans to name an interim alliance leader, Mitsubishi boss Osamu Masuko said afterwards. Instead, he said, leadership will be shared among the three companies’ CEOs.

The crisis unleashed by Ghosn’s arrest has deepened as Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa seeks to end 43.4 percent-owner Renault’s grip on their alliance. Ghosn was swiftly ousted as Nissan chairman but remains at the helm of Renault.

Renault had named Bollore as deputy CEO with “the same powers” as Ghosn a day after his arrest - in a bid to maintain the continuity of its leadership of the alliance.

Under its 2002 master agreement, seen by Reuters, the alliance is chaired by the sitting chief executive of Renault, a post still held by Ghosn. Nissan’s reciprocal a 15 percent stake in its French parent currently has no voting rights.

Changes to the alliance ownership structure were not discussed, Masuko said in Japan after joining the meeting by video link. Saikawa and Bollore also participated remotely.

Ghosn, 64, and alleged co-conspirator Greg Kelly, a fellow Nissan director, were arrested in Tokyo over financial misconduct allegations after a Nissan investigation sparked by a whistleblower.

Both deny accusations that they under-reported Ghosn’s compensation, misrepresented Nissan investments and made personal use of company funds.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Additional reporting and writing by Laurence Frost in Paris; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mark Potter

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