Carlos Ghosn resigns from Renault

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46984199

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Carlos Ghosn, who is in custody in Japan, has resigned from French carmaker Renault, according to reports.

The French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, told Bloomberg Television that “Carlos Ghosn just resigned last night”.

Mr Ghosn has remained at the helm of Renault while being held in Japan since 19 November over allegations of financial misconduct at Nissan.

He held top jobs at both carmakers because of an alliance between them.

Renault, in which the French government owns a 15% stake, is scheduled to hold a board meeting later on Thursday. The carmaker declined to comment.

Mr Ghosn, who was the architect of the Renault-Nissan alliance, faces three charges in Japan of financial misconduct including understating his income and aggravated breach of trust.

Mitsubishi joined the alliance three years ago. While Nissan and Mitsubishi sacked him as chairman after his arrest, Renault had not done so.

The 64-year-old, who denies any wrongdoing, could remain in custody for months after his application for bail earlier this week was denied.

According to reports, the Renault board is said to be considering replacing him with two individuals. The chairman is expected to be Jean-Dominique Senard, who runs Michelin, and Thierry Bolloré, the current deputy, is expected to be appointed as chief executive.

Mr Bolloré has been running the carmaker in the immediate aftermath of Mr Ghosn’s arrest.

Renault has said previously that it has not found any evidence of wrongdoing yet, and an investigation into executive pay has shown no signs of fraud so far.

According to Bloomberg, Mr Le Maire wants the alliance between the carmakers, which has been strained by the arrest of Mr Ghosn, to survive.

“I am sure the alliance will stay,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.

Born in Porto Velho, Brazil, to Lebanese parents, Mr Ghosn had achieved star status in Japan during his time at Nissan. According to one poll he was the man most Japanese women wanted to marry and in another he came seventh in a poll of who should run the country.

Nissan said it had now begun preparations to hold an extraordinary general meeting in April to discuss new board members.

The agenda will be to cover the departure of Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly, an aide to Mr Ghosn who was arrested in November and bailed on Christmas Day. The shareholder meeting will also cover the appointment of a new director to be nominated by Renault.

The Japanese carmaker is also expected to hold a press conference later on Thursday.