June 15, 2018 / 3:36 PM / 6 months ago

Renault boss Ghosn wins board renewal, contested pay vote

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault, speaks during the French carmaker Renault's 2017 annual results presentation at their headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault (RENA.PA) shareholders approved Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn’s 7.4 million euro (6.5 million pounds) compensation for 2017, averting a boardroom crisis as the carmaker explores closer consolidation with alliance partner Nissan (7201.T).

Investors backed Ghosn’s renewal for another four-year board term and voted by 56 to 43 percent in favour of last year’s payout - in addition to which he received 9.2 million euros in his final year as Nissan chief executive.

Ghosn, who lost a 2016 shareholder vote on pay, agreed to cut his 2018 compensation by 30 percent to secure French government backing for his renewal. France, Renault’s biggest shareholder with a 15 percent stake, opposed the 2017 payout but backed this year’s reduced package.

Paris-based Proxinvest, a shareholder advisory firm, had recommended voting against last year’s package on the grounds that Ghosn’s additional Nissan salary was poorly disclosed and bonuses too high. But rival proxy advisor ISS backed the payout, saying it “does not raise any significant concern”.

Under French pressure, Ghosn, 64, is exploring deal options for a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance that is better equipped to survive its main architect. Reuters reported on March 7 that the carmakers were discussing a deeper tie-up.

Renault currently owns 43.4 percent of Japanese affiliate Nissan, which in turn holds 34 percent of Mitsubishi (7211.T) and 15 percent of Renault with no voting rights.

In a Figaro interview published on Friday, Ghosn sounded upbeat about the prospect securing of a new alliance deal despite its extreme political sensitivity in France and Japan.

“We’ve already made good progress on the subject,” he said, adding that a plan would need to be announced “well before the end of my (four-year) term - or even rather at the start.”

Reporting by Laurence Frost; editing by David Evans

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