PARIS: Arrested car boss Carlos Ghosn resigned his position as chief executive and chairman of Renault, ending his leadership roles in the auto industry and signalling the start of new era for the French manufacturer.
Ghosn, the most powerful man in car-making until his sensational arrest in Japan last November on financial misconduct charges, had already been sacked as chairman of Japanese auto groups Nissan and Mitsubishi.
But the 64-year-old had held on to the top job at Renault, which has been run on an interim basis by one of his deputies while he languishes in a Japanese jail.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed that Ghosn tendered his resignation late on Wednesday — ahead of a Renault board meeting in Paris that would have seen him replaced.
A senior director from the firm “received last night the letter of resignation from Carlos Ghosn,” Le Maire said.
As head of Renault since 2005, Ghosn was the keystone of its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi, forging an industry powerhouse which together sold more cars than any of its rivals last year.
But his career came screeching to a halt when Tokyo police arrested him on suspicion of under-reporting millions of dollars in income over eight years.
Ghosn has denied the charges, but with his release from jail unlikely anytime soon — his trial has yet to open — Renault’s board was preparing to name new directors.
The company’s board is widely expected to name interim chief executive Thierry Bollore as CEO, and Michelin head Jean-Dominique Senard as its chairman — both roles were previously held by Ghosn.
A board meeting is scheduled for 10:00 am (0900 GMT) at the company’s headquarters outside Paris.
Nissan said separately that it would hold an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting by mid-April to remove Ghosn from its board, having already stripped the Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive of the chairmanship.
“The agenda is to be limited to the discharge of directors Carlos Ghosn and (right-hand man) Greg Kelly, and the appointment of a new director to be nominated by Renault,” it said.
The future of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has been thrown into doubt with the arrest of Ghosn, who is widely credited with reviving Nissan and fusing together two vastly different corporate cultures.
Bollore, a 55-year-old at Renault since 2012, has held various positions in the car industry in Asia and is seen as someone who can maintain stability as the alliance enters a new era. — AFP