Nissan's First Sales Slump Since 2009 Heightens Post-Ghosn Woes

(Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co. reported its first slide in auto sales in almost a decade, adding to the challenges the company faces following the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn in Japan for alleged financial misconduct.

Global deliveries fell 2.8 percent last year to 5.7 million vehicles, the Yokohama, Japan-based carmaker said in a statement Wednesday. The last time Nissan had a slump was in 2009. By comparison, rival Toyota Motor Corp. showed a 2 percent increase and Volkswagen AG reported a 0.9 percent gain for last year.

While carmakers worldwide have been struggling with China, the largest market, contracting for the first time in more than two decades, Nissan’s woes are compounded by the fallout from Ghosn’s detention. Both the company and the executive have been indicted by Tokyo prosecutors for under-reporting his income, threatening to unravel the world’s biggest auto alliance -- between Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. -- he helped engineer.

Nissan, which is due to announce its earnings for the quarter through December on Feb. 12, is also under probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., where the regulator is examining whether the carmaker accurately disclosed executive pay.

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