Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors Announce New Board

Nissan Renault to rework alliance

The shuffling of key executives underscores the unwinding of a power structure built up during nearly two decades by Ghosn, who is accused of falsifying financial records and breach of trust by Japanese prosecutors.

The removal of Ghosn, credited for rescuing Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999, had caused much uncertainty about the future of the alliance and some speculation the partnership could even unravel.

The four-member board will comprise Senard, Nissan President and CEO Hiroto Saikawa, Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko and Renault CEO Thierry Bollore, as stated by the four in their first joint press conference Tuesday.

The move gave the alliance time to reformulate the structure of its board of directors without having to undo the alliance - for now anyway.

Senard said he is not seeking to become Nissan's chairman and fill the vacuum left by Ghosn, who was ousted following his arrest in November.

In the memorandum of understanding accompanying today's announcement, the companies noted Jean-Dominique Senard is the "natural candidate" to be Nissan's vice chairman and one of its representative directors.

Nissan is part of an alliance with Renault SA of France, and more recently with Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, that was largely cobbled together by Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades.

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The notice from Nissan says its investigation also found Ghosn used company money for personal expenses.

The date for his trial has not been set.

He was granted bail last week at the third time of asking, with bail set at 1 billion yen (9 million US dollars) and released under the provisos that he will not leave Japan and remain under limited video surveillance at the entrance to his residence.

Leading lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has fought the legal battle for Ghosn.

If his request to attend the board meeting had been approved, he would have been expected to dial into the meeting via teleconference, given the conditions of his bail, according to a person familiar with Nissan's thinking. This has always been an issue for Nissan executives, who believe the larger Japanese automaker shouldn't be controlled by the small European brand.

Senard also said Ghosn should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Renault owns about 40 percent of Nissan, while Nissan holds a stake of 15 percent on Renault.

Also on the shareholders' agenda is the dismissal of Greg Kelly, a director who was arrested with Ghosn and accused of working with Ghosn in the alleged misconduct.

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