November 25, 2018 / 1:46 PM / 20 days ago

Renault-Nissan leaders to meet amid tensions over Ghosn ouster

PARIS/TOKYO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Renault-Nissan executives will attempt this coming week to shield their joint operations from a looming power struggle between the carmakers, following alliance boss Carlos Ghosn’s shock arrest over misconduct allegations.

Top executives from both manufacturers and third partner Mitsubishi will attend mid-week operations committee meetings in Amsterdam that had been planned before Ghosn’s Nov. 19 detention in Japan, the companies confirmed.

“There is no change in our alliance relationship,” a Mitsubishi spokesman said.

While Nissan and 43.4 percent-owner Renault have vowed to safeguard the partnership, the Japanese carmaker’s Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa also made clear he wants to end its French parent’s control of the alliance, as he moved swiftly to oust Ghosn as chairman.

Ghosn, 64, and alleged co-conspirator Greg Kelly, a fellow Nissan director, both deny accusations that they under-reported Ghosn’s compensation, misrepresented Nissan investments and made personal use of company funds, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Renault has refrained from dismissing Ghosn as chairman and CEO, while demanding that Nissan share findings from the months-long internal investigation that led to his arrest. Ghosn’s duties have been delegated to second-in-command Thierry Bollore and board director Philippe Lagayette.

The Amsterdam meeting is likely to see Bollore and Saikawa meet face-to-face for the first time since Ghosn’s arrest, sources close to the companies said.

“These are purely operational sessions,” a Renault official said.

All three carmakers have stressed that operations and alliance business are proceeding as normal. Nissan, however, called off the launch of a high-performance Leaf electric car, cancelling Nov. 28 events in Yokohama and Amsterdam.

A Nissan spokesman gave no reason for the postponement and said the company had yet to set a new date for the announcement. (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Maki Shiraki; Additional reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Mark Potter)

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