Former head of the Nissan-Renault alliance Carlos Ghosn’s daring escape from Japan could have put another nail in the coffin of the already troubled partnership, as Nissan is reportedly beefing up plans to quit.
Top executives at the Japanese carmaker have accelerated secret contingency planning for a potential split, the Financial Times reported citing people familiar with the matter. The company could terminate the long standing partnership in engineering and technology and is considering further changes to Nissan’s board, according to the report.
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The plans were ramped up since the fallen executive, who was arrested in Japan in November 2018 and charged with financial misdeeds, fled for Lebanon at the end of last year.
Terminating the more than 20-year alliance could be painful for both Nissan and Renault amid falling sales. As the two firms would become smaller, both will have to seek new partners to keep afloat in the highly competitive market, and while their rival automakers are forming larger alliances, like Volkswagen and Ford, or Chrysler and French PSA Group.
However, the French auto major is apparently making efforts to save the partnership. Renault’s chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, who replaced Ghosn at the position after his arrest, is expected to present several combined projects designed to boost faith in the future of the alliance.
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Ghosn is widely credited for saving Nissan from collapse when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy nearly two decades ago, and stood behind the creation of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. He recommended that French Renault bail out the Japanese carmaker, and in 1999, it bought 36.8 percent of Nissan.
The businessman is accused of hiding his income and enriching himself through payments to dealerships in other countries. Ghosn has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling his detention “outrageous and arbitrary.” Speaking to the press for the first time since his escape earlier this month, he said all charges against him are “baseless” and claimed that the real reason for his persecution was his attempt to deepen the alliance between Nissan and Renault.
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