Business / Corporate

Renault again asks Nissan to hold special shareholders meeting

Kyodo

Renault SA has again asked Nissan Motor Co. to hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting to pick ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s successor, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

A letter requesting the meeting arrived after Nissan rejected an earlier call by Renault, its biggest shareholder, to hold a shareholders meeting to discuss the French automaker’s representation in the Japanese firm before Nissan board members met on Dec. 17, the sources said.

On Dec. 17, Nissan did not name a successor to Ghosn, who has been dismissed as chairman following the arrest for alleged underreporting of remuneration.

The French automaker has meanwhile kept Ghosn as its chairman and CEO after its internal probe found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In a heightening power struggle within one of the world’s largest automotive groups, Nissan wants to review the alliance to make it more equitable.

Renault, whose biggest shareholder is the French government, prefers to maintain its influence, and is apparently eyeing sending a senior executive to the Nissan board, a move that would require shareholders approval.

A current agreement between Nissan and Renault says the Japanese automaker is to receive senior executives from the French peer, although that does not include the post of chairman, Nissan sources have said.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has indicated that a shareholders meeting would be held when a newly set up committee to enhance governance draws up proposals by next March. The annual shareholders meeting is scheduled for June.

Three external directors at Nissan are in the process of nominating a successor from the current board members but they have said they want to make a decision based on discussions by the governance committee, according to Saikawa.

Even though Nissan has contributed about 50 percent of the French automaker’s net income in recent years, Renault owns a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, which holds a 15 percent stake in its French peer — but without voting rights — and 34 percent in Mitsubishi Motors.

Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19 and later indicted for allegedly underreporting his remuneration in securities reports presented to Japanese regulators.

He was served with a fresh arrest warrant on Dec. 21 for allegedly having Nissan shoulder massive personal investment losses. Ghosn, who remains in custody, has denied the allegations.

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