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Two days before Mitsubishi Motors Corp. went public with news it had overstated the fuel economy of its cars, Chairman Osamu Masuko visited Nissan Motor Co. President Carlos Ghosn for a mea culpa. It did not take long for talk to turn from an apology to a deal.

Three weeks after Masuko and Ghosn’s April 18 meeting, their respective boards signed off on an agreement in which Nissan will buy 34 percent of Mitsubishi Motors for about ¥237.4 billion. In purchasing the stake, Nissan will serve as a backstop for an automaker facing a mileage-rigging scandal that is threatening its existence.

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