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Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 17:46
With Ghosn gone, Mitsubishi, Renault, Nissan form new board
By Associated Press
Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 17:46 By Associated Press

Japanese and French flags are hoisted at the entrance to the Nissan headquarters where Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors board meeting takes place in Yokohama, near Tokyo, March 12, 2019. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

YOKOHAMA — The chief executives of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have announced a new board to oversee the French-Japanese auto alliance, seeking a "new start" for the partnership after the arrest and dismissal of Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn.

"This is a very special day for the alliance," Renault SA's chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, told reporters after a meeting at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters. He spoke to reporters along with Renault's chief executive, Thierry Bollore; Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Osamu Masuko, CEO of the smaller Japanese alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

ALSO READ: Ghosn leaves jail, says to fight Japan's 'meritless' charges

The alliance did not announce any changes in mutual stake holdings. The new board, consisting of those four executives, will meet every month in Paris or Tokyo and oversee various projects, helping to make the companies' operations more efficient, they said.

Ghosn still is one of eight members of Nissan's board. He had asked to attend the board meeting but was conspicuously absent after the Tokyo District Court rejected his request on Monday.

He needed court approval to attend because conditions for his release last week on 1 billion yen (US$9 million) bail, after more than 100 days in custody, prohibit actions that may enable him to tamper with evidence.

Ghosn has been charged with falsifying financial reports by under-reporting his income and with breach of trust. He says he is innocent.

In this May 12, 2016, photo, then Nissan Motor Co President and CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks during a joint press conference with Mitsubishi Motors Corp in Yokohama, near Tokyo. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

It is unfortunate that the meritless and unsubstantiated accusations against him have blocked his ideas and perspective from being deployed in service of the company he served for the past 20 years

When questioned about Ghosn's case, Senard said he believed that people are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. He declined comment on whether Ghosn, who remains on Renault's board, will be allowed to attend its meetings even if he is able to leave Japan. At the moment, as he awaits trial, he is barred from leaving the country.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models. Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault, and a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors.

Nissan has not yet named a new chairman to replace Ghosn. Senard said he would not pursue that post. Senard will be chairman of the new alliance board and hopes to become vice chairman at Nissan, he said.

Doubts over the balance of power between Renault and Nissan had been growing after Ghosn's departure.

The Japanese automaker was on the verge of bankruptcy 20 years ago, when Renault sent Ghosn to help lead its turnaround. Nissan is now profitable than Renault.

Since Ghosn's release, he has been seen in Tokyo on outings with his family.

He released a statement reasserting his innocence and calling his detention a "terrible ordeal," but has not commented since.

Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, left, and Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa speak at the start of a joint press conference following a board meeting at the Nissan headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo, March 12, 2019. (EUGENE HOSHIKO / AP)

READ MORE: Tokyo court grants bail to ex-Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn

A statement released on Ghosn's behalf expressed disappointment over his inability to attend Tuesday's meeting.

"As an elected member of the board, Mr. Ghosn stands ready to fulfill his professional duties to the shareholders who elected him," it said.

"It is unfortunate that the meritless and unsubstantiated accusations against him have blocked his ideas and perspective from being deployed in service of the company he served for the past 20 years."

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