Nissan CEO says he is not aware of possible Fiat Chrysler bid

Andrew Cummings
March 30, 2019

The Special Committee for Improving Governance said after giving up his chief executive role at Nissan in 2017 to become chairman, Mr Ghosn.

Arrested in November, he has been charged with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation, and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and making payments to a Saudi businessman.

But the panel members did not interview Mr Ghosn or Mr Kelly, who have both denied the charges.

The FT said that its sources had indicated the recent creation of a new Alliance board led by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard had improved confidence that merger plans can advance, adding that the company would then pursue a further acquisition. The French state is Renault's most powerful shareholder with extra voting rights and a 15 percent stake.

Fiat Chrysler is also seeking a partnership or merger and the company is holding talks with rivals for a deal, the report said. Ghosn's proposal was stopped by the French government, the newspaper said.

Ghosn was also CEO of Renault, Nissan's top shareholder with a 43.4 percent stake, and led a Netherlands-based company that oversaw the Nissan-Renault alliance.

The group issued 38 recommendations to bolster Nissan's governance, including that top executive positions at the Japanese auto maker should not be held by people serving in executive positions at Renault or junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

The Nissan-Renault marriage isn't anything new.

Seiichiro Nishioka, a former judge and the co-chair of the governance committee, said the investigation found the problems were caused by what he called misconduct by an individual manager involving pursuit of personal gain, and were basically different from past wrongdoing at some other Japanese companies, such as accounting fraud. Nissan's former CEO Carlos Ghosn was said to be cooking up something almost a year ago to the day, after talking about a plan to make the merger "irreversible" in February 2018. Amid speculation that the French government wanted to see the chairmanship of Renault and Nissan held by the same person, Senard made clear at a press conference earlier this month that he was not seeking the position. Before his arrest, Ghosn had planned to cement their alliance.

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