Nissan Motor Co executives have stepped up contingency planning for a possible split from Renault SA after former Nissan chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Japan, the Financial Times reported, citing people it did not identify.
The preliminary discussions for a separation include a total divide in engineering and manufacturing, as well as changes to Nissan’s board, it said.
Renault and Nissan declined to comment, the newspaper said.
It said that Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who is due to announce several combined projects for the alliance in coming weeks, held doubts about the partnership enduring when he replaced Ghosn last year.
Nissan’s recently appointed chief executive officer Makoto Uchida has been working closely with Senard on these new projects, a person close to Nissan management said.
Yet even during the Ghosn era, some engineers were not happy about Ghosn’s push to combine engineering and manufacturing, people close to Nissan said.
Both automakers would likely seek new partners in the event of a full split, the newspaper said.
Ghosn, the former head of both companies, built up Renault-Nissan over the past two decades. He escaped from house arrest in Japan last month and resurfaced in Lebanon, saying that he would not stand trial on charges of financial crimes “in a rigged Japanese justice system.”
However, Japan does not believe Ghosn is a victim, the first poll published since he fled to Lebanon showed.
More than 90 percent of respondents said they were not convinced by Ghosn’s criticisms of Japan’s criminal justice system, a survey by Tokyo-based broadcaster Fuji News Network (FNN) showed.
Just 4 percent found Ghosn convincing, FNN reported.
FNN did not provide a margin of error for the poll of 1,040 people, which it carried out on Saturday and Sunday last week.
In a widely broadcast news conference in Beirut on Jan. 8, Ghosn accused Japan of breaching his human rights and said that he lost any hope of a fair trial on charges of financial crimes.
His accusations prompted Japanese Minister of Justice Masako Mori to defend the system in a series of five press conferences last week.
About 61 percent of respondents in the poll approved of using GPS devices to prevent defendants from skipping bail, while 28 percent disagreed.
Ghosn was not fitted with such a device at the time of his escape.
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