• Kyodo


Nissan Motor Co. is unlikely to select a new chairman at a board meeting next week to fill the post of ousted head Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested last month over his alleged financial misconduct, sources familiar with the matter have said.

The Japanese automaker initially planned to decide the successor at the Monday meeting, possibly tapping CEO Hiroto Saikawa as interim chairman. But it will forgo the decision, apparently taking into consideration that its alliance partner Renault SA has not taken any action against Ghosn, who remains as chairman and CEO of the company.

The sources said Friday that Nissan is looking to first focus on enhancing corporate governance amid criticism that Ghosn, who is credited with rescuing Nissan from near-bankruptcy in the 1990s, was allowed to have extensive powers and make decisions at his own discretion over company management.

Some officials of Renault, Nissan’s largest shareholder, have also said that Nissan should come up with measures to improve governance before moving on to the process of selecting the next chairman, according to the sources.

Renault said Thursday that Ghosn will retain his positions as chairman and CEO with the firm as no evidence of wrongdoing was found in its own internal probe — moves that differed starkly with Nissan’s quick decision to strip him of his chairmanship following his Nov. 19 arrest.

Ghosn was indicted Monday on a charge of violating the financial instruments law by allegedly understating his remuneration in the company’s securities reports by ¥5 billion ($44 million) during the five years through March 2015.

He was also served with a fresh warrant for continuing the alleged misconduct amounting to a further ¥4.2 billion for the three years through March this year.

Ghosn has denied the allegations.

At the board meeting Monday, Nissan plans to decide on the framework of a new committee within the board, which will have the authority to decide the board members’ remunerations, they said. It is set to consist mainly of independent directors.

The process to pick Ghosn’s successor may not be easy for Nissan amid a struggle for influence with Renault.

Nissan hopes to review the alliance to make it more equitable, but Renault, backed by the French government, prefers to maintain its influence within the Japanese automaker and protect its business interests.

Although its earnings are paltry compared to Nissan, Renault owns a 43.4 percent stake in the Japanese automaker, which holds a 15 percent stake in its French peer but without voting rights. Renault also owns a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors Co., the third partner in the alliance.

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