Wed, Jan 15, 2020 - Page 10 News List

Nissan denies reported plans to split with Renault following Ghosn scandal

AFP, TOKYO

Nissan Motor Co is “in no way” planning to end its partnership with Renault SA, the Japanese automaker yesterday insisted after a report suggested that a divorce was possible in the wake of the Carlos Ghosn scandal.

Britain’s Financial Times — citing “several people with knowledge of the matter” — on Monday reported that senior executives at the scandal-hit firm were speeding up work on secret plans for a potential parting of ways with France’s Renault.

However, a Nissan statement firmly denied the claims, saying: “Nissan is in no way considering dissolving the alliance.”

“The alliance is the source of Nissan’s competitiveness,” the firm said, adding that it aims to continue delivering “win-win results for all member companies.”

The partnership, which also includes Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp, has been troubled since the shock arrest of former Nissan chief executive Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct.

Ghosn, who last month jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon, said the charges against him were cooked up by disgruntled Nissan executives hoping to block his plans to more closely integrate the automaker with Renault.

Ghosn in a news conference in Lebanon said that the alliance is on the rocks and directionless.

New alliance chief executive Jean-Dominique Senard earlier hit back at the reports of a planned split, telling Belgian daily L’Echo that the claims had “no connection to the current situation of the alliance.”

“The Renault-Nissan alliance is not dead. Soon we will show you why,” Senard said in an interview published yesterday. “I ask myself, where does this sort of information come from? I am not sure it comes from a place of goodwill.”

At yesterday’s close in Tokyo trading, Nissan shares dropped 2.96 percent to ¥618, despite the company’s firm denial.

The 20-year partnership between Nissan and Renault, whose alliance is based on cross-shareholdings without a joint structure, has been badly shaken by the Ghosn scandal.

However, the alliance is “nowhere near” the point of collapse, Senard said, adding that its leaders were busy “recreating its original spirit” and planning future investments.

The leaks probably came from “a few disgruntled souls” inside the company who wanted to “vent their frustration,” a source close to Nissan said, adding that rebuilding trust between the two firms “will take time.”

French Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire yesterday said that he expects automaker Renault to name its new chief executive in a few days.

Media reports that some Nissan executives want to break up the alliance with Renault are “malicious,” Le Maire said on French CNews TV.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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