France Raises its Voice With Nissan Preparing to Oust Ghosn
(Bloomberg) -- France is closely monitoring developments at Renault SA, which is partially state owned, as the carmaker’s chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn faces dismissal from his posts as chairman of Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors.
“Our priority is the stability of Renault, and jobs,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Brussels on Monday after Nissan said its board would meet Thursday to decide Ghosn’s fate amid accusations of fraud at the Japanese company.
Le Maire didn’t specify how France would seek to protect employment, or why exactly posts might be endangered.
France is Renault’s top shareholder alongside Nissan, with a 15 percent stake, and was instrumental in the reappointment of Ghosn as CEO for another four years in February. One condition for its support was that the CEO would solidify the pact with Nissan and recently-added partner Mitsubishi. Ghosn appointed Thierry Bollore as Renault’s No. 2 so he could more fully focus on the alliance.
Both the French government and unions are worried about jobs in France, where Renault employs 48,000 people and where its plant in Flins, near Paris, has been building Nissan cars since 2016. After being rescued by Renault, Nissan has become the biggest contributor in the three-pronged alliance, though recently Renault’s profit margins have pulled ahead.
Renault’s board will gather later Monday shortly to discuss Nissan’s decision to meet to dismiss Ghosn, and accusations brought up by Japanese authorities and the CEO of Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, the French company said.
Ghosn has historically had a tense relationship with Emmanuel Macron. The French president spearheaded the purchase of more Renault shares as economy minister in 2015. His goal was to secure special voting rights and give France more sway in the alliance than Nissan, a move that took Ghosn by surprise.
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