Renault names Ghosn stand-ins amid crisis over Nissan investigation

Attribution: Kaspars Garda,

French automaker Renault tapped its chief operating officer and a senior board member to fill in for embattled boss Carlos Ghosn, following a probe by alliance partner Nissan resulting in his arrest on suspicion of financial misbehavior.

Thierry Bollore, Ghosn’s operational second-in-command, is going to become deputy chief executive, while lead independent director Philippe Lagayette assumes the function of interim chairman, Renault stated following a board meeting late on Tuesday.

But the board refrained from removing Ghosn while awaiting more information on the allegations – in a decision that could also require more time for an accelerated, permanent succession process.

“Mr. Ghosn, temporarily incapacitated, remains Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,” Renault stated. “During this period, the board will meet on a regular basis under the chairmanship of the lead independent director.”

Ghosn, one of the auto industry’s best-known leaders, was arrested on Monday after Nissan stated he had engaged in years of misconduct, consisting of personal use of company funds and under-reported earnings. The Japanese company prepares to eliminate him as chairman on Thursday.

The French government, Renault’s biggest shareholder, had started to distance itself from Ghosn, calling for new interim leadership prior the meeting, as the Japanese investigation expanded to consist Renault-Nissan alliance finances.

“Carlos Ghosn is no more in a position where he is capable of leading Renault,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated previously in the day. “Renault has been weakened, which makes it all the more necessary to act faster.”

Statements by Le Maire, Renault and its board all echoed French preoccupations over the future of the alliance first articulated by President of France Emmanuel Macron within hours of Ghosn’s arrest on Monday.

After talks between Le Maire and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko on Tuesday, the ministers confirmed their “shared wish to maintain this winning cooperation”.

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