The news of the arrest of Carlos Ghosn in Japan was only a few hours, when cracks began to appear in car alliance that the executive has skillfully supported for almost two decades.
At a press conference held late in the evening in Tokyo, the executive director of Nissan, Hiroto Saikava, the former Ghosn trustee, painted a dark image of the executive with too much power and little oversight, which, he said, could contribute to the alleged financial misconduct.
But the CEO also hit the association. Renault Nissan saying that the Japanese market was undervalued and that some product decisions were biased.
In France, where the state owns 15% Renaultofficials quickly demanded the continuity of the pact, which, according to observers, favored the French side. The president Emmanuel Macron He said he would remain “extremely vigilant” regarding the stability of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Big step back
The confusion created in the fall of Gonsa speaks of the great role of the executive in that he holds in his hands the house that he built almost unaided. As CEO of Renault, as well as the president of Nissan and the new partner of Mitsubishi, the 64-year-old was the common denominator and driving force behind the association, which was originally formed in 1999, when Nissan is about to collapse.
Since then, Ghosn has repeatedly intervened to calm down shareholders disputes, and his departure leaves no obvious person who could play this role.
“This alliance is strongly linked to the Ghosn personality,” said Damian Flores, an analyst from Commerzbank AG in London. “If you are talking about driving integration between these companies and even hoping for a complete merger in the future, I think these hopes have just taken a big step back.”
Questions about life without ghosn Renault shares, which finished the day in Paris, declined by 8.4% to their lowest level since January 2015. The news of the arrest occurred after the closure of operations in Japan.
At the press conference, Nissan Saikawa tried to put down any assumptions about a complete break and said that Gonso’s departure would not affect the alliance, which he called more than one person.
“Considering that the investments that these companies must make in electric cars and in autonomous driving they are so big that because the automotive industry is changing in such a way that we don’t quite understand, it’s probably suicidal to break the alliance, ”said Kenneth Curtis, president of Starfort Investment Holdings, investment group, private equity and commodities, and the Former vice president of Asia Goldman Sachs.
It is difficult to underestimate the success of Gonso in creating a complex structure. He built his reputation as a transition specialist, bringing Nissan back to the limit, which is a legend in Japan, where the death of Nissan was a national tragedy. His rebirth, in turn, made Ghosn a hero.
When the alliance entered the crisis after France temporarily increased the state’s share in order to win a shareholder vote in 2015, Ghosn deactivated the situation by playing a role Leading automotive diplomat between the French and Japanese sides.
But even Ghosn, using the unique cultural approach of its Lebanese-French-Brazilian heritage, was not able to overcome the differences between the two main parties. Even an investigation into Gons’s alleged misdemeanor reveals flaws, and the allegations against Ghosn are triggered by an investigation into complaints about Nissan. Meanwhile, Renault seems to have remained in the dark.
Part of the unbalanced power structure is due to the fact that Nissan has become the larger of the two in supply and sales, but has less voice.
Renault owns just over 43 percent of Nissan, compared with a 15 percent stake in a Japanese company in a French partner. He also has a say in the alliance, while Nissan does not.
“It's hard not to conclude that there could be a gap between Renault and Nissan,” said Max Warburton, a London-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
Ghosn was one of the first traditional car heads for making electric cars to head the launch. Nissan Leaf in 2010when car batteries were an exotic vision on most roads. He predicted that small businesses would find it difficult to keep up with the times, making the scale a vital recipe for survival. According to Gons, the rescue for the auto industry was to cover more than just building cars.
“You’ll see carmaker groups, technology companies, software companies to market this offer,” the executive director said in an interview last month.
At the moment, there is no obvious choice for replacing Ghosn. During the transition to the baton, he appointed Saykawa last year to Nissan and appointed Renault operating director Thierry Bollor as a “good candidate” to replace him with the French automaker, there is a limited management structure for the alliance
“Ghosn has always put himself in a position seemingly indispensable,” said Jean-Louis Seppé of Invest Securities SA, which covers Renault from France. His departure "will bring the problem of longevity and evolution of the alliance."