November 20, 2018 / 11:31 AM / 22 days ago

Japan's Mitsubishi CEO says tough to manage car alliance without Ghosn

FILE PHOTO: Mitsubishi Motors Corp's President and CEO Osamu Masuko presents during media preview of the 45th Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo, Japan October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi car alliance may be hard to manage without the unifying figure of chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is police custody in Japan facing financial misconduct allegations, Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko said on Tuesday.

“I don’t think there is anyone else on Earth like Ghosn who could run Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi,” Masuko told reporters in Tokyo.

Ghosn is chairman of Nissan Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motor Corp as well as chairman and chief executive of their French partner, Renault.

“The immediate problem is that while we still have people at the top of two companies, there is no one at the third,” Masuko added, referring to Renault.

Ghosn, 64, personally shaped the alliance and had pledged to consolidate it with a deeper tie-up, before eventually stepping back from its operational leadership.

Arrested on Monday, Ghosn, will be fired by the Nissan board this week in a dramatic fall for a leader hailed for rescuing the Japanese carmaker from near bankruptcy.

Nissan said an internal investigation triggered by a tip-off from a whistleblower had revealed that he had engaged in wrongdoing including personal use of company money and under-reporting for years how much he was earning.

Mitsubishi is also conducting an internal probe of Ghosn’s activities and the board there will likely meet by the end of next week to decide the chairman’s fate, Masuko said.

Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, which owns 15 percent of Renault, with no voting rights in a partnership that began in 1999. Since 2016, Nissan has held a 34 percent controlling stake in its smaller Japanese rival, Mitsubishi Motor Corp.

Reporting by Tim Kelly, Writing by Darren Schuettler; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Mark Potter

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