November 23, 2018 / 9:25 AM / 18 days ago

Interim Renault boss - I'll protect our interests in Nissan alliance

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault’s (RENA.PA) interim deputy chief executive said he would safeguard the carmaker’s interests in its alliance with Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), following the ouster of Carlos Ghosn as Nissan chairman over financial misconduct allegations.

FILE PHOTO: Thierry Bollore, Chief Operating Officer of Renault Group, speaks during the first press day of the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

The Nissan board’s vote to remove Ghosn as chairman on Thursday drew a firm line under his stewardship of the nearly two-decade-old alliance.

“I will make sure we guarantee our stability and stay focussed on our missions to preserve the interests of Renault and the sustainability of the alliance,” Thierry Bollore, named as Ghosn’s stand-in at Renault after the industrial star’s arrest in Japan, said in a video to shareholders.

The shareholding structure among Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, which was brought into the alliance in 2016, has become a source of tension alongside the removal of Ghosn, with Nissan unhappy with what it sees as a junior partner status.

Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, while Nissan has only a 15-percent non-voting share in Renault. Yet Nissan is 60 percent bigger than the French automaker by sales.

The relationship is further complicated by the role of the French state, which holds 15 percent of Renault and enjoys double-voting rights.

Ghosn and former Nissan Representative Director Greg Kelly are being investigated over alleged conspiracy to understate Ghosn’s compensation over five years from fiscal 2010 by about half of the actual 9.998 billion yen ($88.9 million).

On Friday, the Asahi newspaper reported that Japanese prosecutors are likely to build a new criminal case against Ghosn for understating his remuneration by 3 billion yen ($27.0 million) over three years from fiscal 2015.

In the wake of Ghosn’s spectacular downfall, French and Japanese government ministers have reaffirmed support for the Renault-Nissan alliance, which was enlarged to include Mitsubishi in 2016.

“Our group is perfectly organised to ensure the continuity of the company’s business,” Bollore said.

Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker

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