Business / Corporate

Nissan to name Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to replace Carlos Ghosn on board, sources say

Kyodo, JIJI

At an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday, Nissan Motor Co. is set to decide that the new chairman of Renault SA will replace Carlos Ghosn as a member of the automaker’s top management, sources said Monday.

Final approval of the nomination of Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is expected at a Nissan extraordinary shareholders meeting to be held in mid-April.

Senard, CEO of French tire giant Michelin, was named as chairman of Nissan’s alliance partner in late January as the two automakers work respectively on a management revamp more than two months after their former boss Ghosn was arrested over alleged financial misconduct.

In a related development, Nissan held the second meeting of its special committee for improving its corporate governance, which was set up in the wake of Ghosn’s arrest on Nov. 19. Ghosn was ousted from the post of chairman later that month.

Lasting for more than five hours, the meeting of the seven-member panel, comprised of Nissan’s external directors and business experts, held hearings with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, statutory auditor Hidetoshi Imazu and other executives to look into why the Japanese automaker could not prevent Ghosn’s alleged misdeeds, including long-running understatements of his pay in financial reports.

The committee is set to hold another meeting on Feb. 15 and make a set of proposals to Nissan by the end of March.

Saikawa returned to Japan after attending a two-day meeting through Friday in Amsterdam with members of the alliance, which also involves Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

“We had good future-oriented discussions,” Saikawa told reporters in Tokyo on Sunday, referring to his meeting with Senard.

Saikawa and Senard held a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of a two-day conference among executives of the alliance.

It was the first such conference since the Senard-led management team was launched at Renault on Jan. 24 following the resignation of Ghosn. Nissan and Renault have been vying for leadership since Ghosn’s arrest.

“It was difficult to have talks with the top leader of Renault’s board. But now, we’ve taken a new step,” Saikawa said, signaling an eagerness to mend his company’s ties with Renault, Nissan’s top shareholder.

Saikawa declined to comment on whether he had talks with any French government officials in France after the meetings he attended in the Netherlands.

The French government, the biggest shareholder of Renault, is calling for the strengthening of the relationship between Nissan and Renault, possibly through business integration.