Nissan pours cold water on hopes for quick fix to strained relations with France’s Renault SA

Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said he wanted to preserve the spirit of equality in the alliance

Reuters June 25, 2019 11:42:18 IST
Nissan pours cold water on hopes for quick fix to strained relations with France’s Renault SA
  • Shareholders at Japan’s second-biggest automaker voted on a new governance structure and 11-member board

  • Former chairman Carlos Ghosnw was arrested last year over financial misconduct allegations, which he denies

Yokohama: Nissan Motor on Tuesday threw cold water on hopes for a quick fix to its strained relations with France’s Renault SA, saying inequality between the partners could unravel their two-decade-old automaking alliance.

Speaking at Nissan’s annual general meeting in Yokohama, its first since the dramatic ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn last year, Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said he wanted to preserve the spirit of equality in the alliance - despite a shareholding structure that Nissan has long seen as lopsided.

Tuesday’s meeting comes just days after the two partners resolved a highly publicised disagreement between Saikawa and Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard over appointments to Nissan’s newly created governance committees.

“We want a win-win relationship with Renault. The alliance has been successful until now because we have respected each others’ independence,” Saikawa said.

Nissan pours cold water on hopes for quick fix to strained relations with Frances Renault SA

Representational image. AFP

“If necessary, we will put our capital structure on the table. If the relationship becomes a win-lose one, the relationship will break up very quickly.”

His comments are some of the starkest in recent memory about the alliance and signal Nissan’s deepening concern over the relationship.

“Our priority is to recover our performance, which means postponing discussions on the future of the alliance,” Saikawa told shareholders.

“It is critical to create opportunities in the future with Renault to discuss options for the alliance. I want to discuss these with Senard.”

Shareholders at Japan’s second-biggest automaker voted on a new governance structure and 11-member board, after the arrest last year of Ghosn over financial misconduct allegations - which he denies - revealed auditing weaknesses at the company.

Renault, Nissan’s biggest shareholder with 43.4 percent of the Japanese automaker, had demanded additional representation for its directors on Nissan groups overseeing company auditing and personnel nominations.

Saikawa had initially pushed back at those demands, but late last week Nissan granted seats to Senard and Renault CEO Thierry Bollore on its nominations and auditing committees, respectively.

Although that manoeuvring helped pull the Nissan-Renault alliance back from the brink of crisis - and may have saved Saikawa’s job - the former Ghosn lieutenant is now faced with the unenviable task of trying to shore up the strained partnership.

Nissan shareholders on Tuesday also returned Saikawa to the board of the automaker, as expected. Reappointment sees him defy opposition by proxy advisors.

In a rare public rebuke by international proxy firms against the leader of a top-tier Japanese firm, International Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis earlier this month urged Nissan shareholders to vote against reappointing Saikawa as a director.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Nissan's ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn re-arrested on fresh allegations; chances of imminent bail dashed
Business

Nissan's ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn re-arrested on fresh allegations; chances of imminent bail dashed

Carlos Ghosn's re-arrest means he could be detained for at least another 10 days in a Tokyo jail, where he has been confined since he was arrested last month on initial allegations of financial misconduct.

Nissan poised to propose Carlos Ghosn replacement on board; new Renault chief Jean-Dominique Senard likely choice: Report
Business

Nissan poised to propose Carlos Ghosn replacement on board; new Renault chief Jean-Dominique Senard likely choice: Report

The Japanese firms jettisoned Carlos Ghosn almost immediately but Renault waited much longer and the tycoon eventually resigned as chairman and CEO.

Renault, Nissan rebuild alliance to ride out coronavirus storm; thousands of jobs to be at risk after restructuring plans: Report
Business

Renault, Nissan rebuild alliance to ride out coronavirus storm; thousands of jobs to be at risk after restructuring plans: Report

When Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp announced the last strategy plan for their Alliance in September 2017, the goal was to become the world’s biggest automaker by 2022.