TOKYO (Reuters) - Renault SA RENA.PA, Nissan Motor Co 7201.T and Mitsubishi Motors 7211.T on Wednesday said they had promoted Hadi Zablit to general secretary of their automaking alliance to accelerate business efficiencies across the companies.
Zablit, senior vice president of business development at the alliance, takes up the newly created position on Monday and will focus on maximising the contribution of the alliance’s scale to the profits of each company, the automakers said in a statement.
The announcement comes as Nissan and Renault try to mend ties amid falling profits a year after the Carlos Ghosn scandal. Nissan brought in a new executive team this week, while Renault is set to choose a new CEO in the coming weeks.
The 49-year-old, who holds Lebanese and French citizenship, began his career at Renault in 1994 as a production process engineer at the automaker’s powertrain division. He later joined Boston Consulting Group where he eventually became a senior partner, before returning to Renault in 2017.
Since then, he has served as head of Renault’s digital operations, and among other tasks, heads the partnership’s joint ventures for autonomous mobility services.
In his new role, Zablit will be tasked with overseeing special projects to enable the three automakers to work more efficiently. In a statement, the alliance said that details of these projects would be announced in coming weeks.
Renault has held a 43% stake in Nissan since the French automaker rescued Nissan from a financial crisis two decades ago. Their partnership has focused on using their combined scale to lower costs for research and development, procurement and production.
Both automakers and their junior partner Mitsubishi were shaken by the arrest of former chairman Ghosn last November on allegations of financial misconduct, which he denies.
Zablit’s position is the first executive role to be announced by the alliance in the past year since Ghosn’s arrest. Since then, some positions which focus on joint tasks, including communications, have stopped operating.
Earlier this year, Renault tried to forge deeper capital ties with Nissan, only to be rebuffed by the Japanese automaker. This week, Nissan’s new CEO, Makoto Uchida, told reporters that the alliance had “to benefit each of its partners in terms of revenue and profit”.
Uchida added that closer capital ties with Renault were not a focus in the short term.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jacqueline Wong
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