Business / Corporate

Nissan to accept Renault request for more representation on new committee: sources

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Nissan Motor Co. has decided to accept Renault SA’s request for more representation on the Japanese carmaker’s new board committees in a bid to secure approval for its governance reform proposal at an upcoming shareholders meeting, sources said Wednesday.

Nissan will give Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard and CEO Thierry Bollore seats on committees to be established as part of measures to bolster governance after the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn for alleged financial misconduct, the sources said.

Nissan initially proposed giving only Senard a seat because it wanted the majority of the committees to be comprised of outside directors. Senard has been a Nissan board member since April, while Bollore has been nominated as a new director subject to approval at the shareholders meeting.

But Renault — Nissan’s largest shareholder with a 43 percent stake — threatened to abstain from voting on the proposal unless it was given more representation, the sources said.

A two-thirds majority will be necessary for the proposal to pass at an annual shareholders meeting next Tuesday. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said last week that Renault’s plan was “most regrettable.”

Nissan offered the new proposal to Renault and the two partners have broadly agreed on it, the sources said.

“We will no longer have a dispute” between the two companies, one of the sources said.

The development raised the likelihood of the proposal being approved at next week’s meeting, allowing Nissan to start operations under a new management team.

Nissan has worked for months on overhauling its corporate governance structure following the arrest and ouster of Ghosn last November. It plans to establish three statutory board committees to enhance oversight on audit, executive remuneration and nomination.

Ghosn, who faces charges of understating remuneration and misuse of company assets, had effectively handled this aspect as chairman of the board and the company. Ghosn denies all the charges against him.

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday urged Renault to back governance reforms at Nissan, saying it would be a “positive sign” for the future of the alliance between the two carmakers.

Le Maire told Europe 1 radio that he hoped that Renault would back the reforms when they come up for a vote at Nissan’s annual shareholders meeting on June 25.

Le Maire on Tuesday reiterated that building up the alliance was the state’s priority.

“Once the alliance has been reinforced and its solidity is beyond doubt then and only then can we think about consolidation,” he said, referring to the proposed tie-up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.