Ghosn Is Gone: Ousted Nissan and Mitsubishi Exec Resigns As Renault CEO

For more than two decades, Carlos Ghosn rose to become a titan of the automotive industry.

Carlos Ghosn as Renault CEO and chairman

In November 2018, Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan on accusations of financial wrongdoings, including underreporting his income by tens of millions of dollars and transferring personal losses to Nissan over the past several years. Now, as Ghosn remains in Japanese custody, he has officially resigned as chairman and CEO of French automaker Renault. In an interview Thursday, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced Ghosn’s resignation.

His arrest has created a tumultuous time for the alliance’s partners — Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. As Ghosn played an instrumental role on bringing the companies together, his ousting brought into question whether that alliance would ultimately survive. Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard will step in as Renault’s chairman. Renault also chose current acting CEO Thierry Bollore to ultimately replace Ghosn in that position.

Senard’s responsibility will be to maintain the integrity of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. He told Reuters and other reporters, “It’s important that this alliance remains extremely strong. It is our compulsory duty to go forward together.”

The latest news in the former executive’s saga removes him from the alliance equation as it seeks to mend the rifts caused by his sudden departure. He started with Renault in 1996, after an 18-year tenure at Michelin. After restructuring the company, he stepped in to help rescue Nissan from near bankruptcy in 1999. His exploits saved both companies, and the alliance prospered over the following years. Mitsubishi joined the fold in 2016. That created the alliance we know today, with Ghosn as an integral part of it all. Both Nissan and Mitsubishi cast him out within days after his arrest.

Ghosn: Accusations are “meritless and unsubstantiated”

At this point, Ghosn has not been convicted of any crime. He is still awaiting trial, which may be months away. Until then, he will likely remain in jail.

Ghosn has only had one chance to speak publicly since his arrest, on January 8. There, he told those in attendance at a court hearing that accusations against him are “meritless and unsubstantiated.” Today’s news, however, casts Ghosn completely out of the alliance he’s helped to forge over the past two decades.

Automotive News reported on comments by Bernard Jullien, an independent auto industry analyst. Of Ghosn’s tenure at Renault and his subsequent downfall, he said, “It’s the kind of thing that happens when somebody stays in power for too long.”