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Renault hands Carlos Ghosn's leadership powers to COO Thierry Bolloré

Renault chief operating officer, Thierry Bolloré

Renault’s board of directors have handed Carlos Ghosn's leadership powers to chief operating officer Thierry Bolloré and requested that Alliance partner Nissan discloses “all information” related to financial misconduct investigation.

In an emergency meeting lead independent director Philippe Lagayette yesterday (November 20), the board handed temporary leadership of the management team of the Group to Thierry Bolloré following the opening of judicial proceedings against Ghosn in Japan.

A statement issued last night the board said that it was unable to comment on the “evidence seemingly gathered against Mr Ghosn by Nissan” and the Japanese judicial proceedings.

Bolloré, who has been serving as the Renault Group’s chief operations officer assumes the same powers as Ghosn and Renault said that its board would now meet on a regular basis under the chairmanship of the lead independent director to protect the interests of Renault and the sustainability of the Alliance.

It added: “The Board decided to request Nissan, on the basis of the principles of transparence, trust and mutual respect set forth in the Alliance Charter, to provide all information in their possession arising from the internal investigations related to Mr Ghosn.

“The Board endorsed the support expressed by the Nissan management to the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, which remains the priority of the Group.”

Bolloré joined Renault in 2012, first as executive vice-president for manufacturing and supply chain and then as chief competitive officer before his ascension to the post of chief operations officer in February this year.

He has previously held roles at Michelin, where he held senior posts in the late 1990s in Japan and Thailand, and later joined auto-parts giant Faurecia, spending much time in China in the early 2000s, before moving to Europe and South Africa.

Yesterday AM reported the extent of French unease at the Ghosn situation, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stating that the Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is “no longer capable of leading” Renault in light of his arrest amid allegations of financial misconduct.

Japanese prosecutors arrested the Brazilian-born executive on Monday (November 19) after it emerged that Nissan had been investigating him for under-reporting his pay package and "Numerous other significant acts of misconduct", including "personal use of company assets”, for several months.

While Nissan’s chief executive Hiroto Saikawa will now propose to the Nissan Board of Directors to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions, French politician Le Maire is also adding pressure on the long-time manufacturer figurehead.

A report in The Guardian newspaper reported that Le Maire had told France Info radio: “Carlos Ghosn is no longer in a position where he is capable of leading Renault.

“Renault has been weakened, which makes it all the more necessary to act quickly.”

The French government has a 15% stake, to set up an interim management structure.

Meanwhile, Renault currently owns 43% of Nissan, while Nissan only owns 15% of Renault.

Nissan’s representative director Greg Kelly has also been subject of the investigation carried out into Ghosn's financial misconduct by the Japanese manufacturer which, it said in an official statement, had resulted from “a whistleblower report”.

Nissan said: “The investigation showed that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly have been reporting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were less than the actual amount, in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn’s compensation.

“Also, in regards to Ghosn, numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered, such as personal use of company assets, and Kelly’s deep involvement has also been confirmed.

“Nissan has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and has been fully cooperating with their investigation. We will continue to do so.”

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