The new management body of Nissan Motor, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors held its first meeting Friday and started discussing ways to improve the alliance following multiple arrests of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, Renault CEO Thierry Bollore and Mitsubishi Motors CEO Masuko Osamu participated in the meeting, which was chaired by Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard at the French automaker’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, in the suburbs of Paris.
“The potential of the alliance must now be valued properly and that’s in our hands. It’s up to us to define our future,” Renault stated, though it did not describe further.
The three automakers stated last month they would establish the new body and run it in a “consultative” manner after criticizing the earlier management structure, where power was concentrated in Ghosn’s hands.
Ghosn was chairman of the three automakers and CEO of Renault and Nissan-Renault B.V. He was initially arrested by Japanese prosecutors for alleged financial misconduct at Nissan in November but has rejected all charges despite spending months in detention.
Under the new organization, the three partners aim to enhance the synergistic effects of an alliance that became the world’s second-largest auto group in terms of worldwide vehicles sales last year. Talks of a possible review of their capital structure — a possible source of tension — have been suspended for now.
Senard stated in a news conference earlier month that the board has nothing to do with the evaluation of capital structure.
Some Nissan executives consider the partnership as unfair, while the government of France, Renault’s largest shareholder, has sought to merge the two companies, according to sources knowledgeable with the matter.
Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, that has a 15 percent stake in its French partner without voting rights and a 34 percent share in Mitsubishi Motors.
In a video message released Tuesday, Ghosn stated his arrest was the result of “backstabbing” by Nissan, adding that a “few executives” there felt threatened by what might occur to the company’s autonomy in a potential convergence or merger with Renault. The message was recorded shortly prior to his fourth arrest last week.
Nissan and Renault stated separately Friday it has formed a new research and development center in Shanghai to accelerate development of technology needed to introduce autonomous driving and internet-connected and electric vehicles in China.