Akio Kon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan Motor Co., speaks during an interview in Yokohama, Japan, on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.
Nissan will hold a board meeting on Thursday to oust Chairman Carlos Ghosn after the shock arrest of its once-revered leader, ushering in a period of uncertainty for its 19-year alliance with Renault.
The Franco-Japanese alliance, enlarged in 2016 to include Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors, has been rattled to its core by Ghosn’s arrest in Japan on Monday, with the 64-year-old group chairman and industry star accused of financial misconduct.
Ghosn had shaped the alliance and was pushing for a deeper tie-up including potentially a full Renault-Nissan merger at the French government’s urging, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.
Japanese prosecutors said Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly, who has also been arrested, conspired to understate Ghosn’s compensation at Nissan over five years from 2010, saying it was about half the actual 10 billion yen.
Nissan’s board meeting will be held sometime after 4:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) at its headquarters in Yokohama and the company is likely to issue a statement afterwards, one senior Nissan official told reporters on Wednesday, requesting anonymity as the details were confidential.
Renault executives are expected to join by video conference.
Japanese media said that given Nissan’s board composition Ghosn’s removal from the post is expected to be approved.
Nissan executives have five seats on the nine-member board, Renault loyalists have two seats and the remaining two are held by unaffiliated outside directors, a former bureaucrat and a race driver.
With Ghosn and Kelly still in detention, neither of the men will be able to vote or defend themselves at the meeting. A majority vote by the remaining seven members of board will be sufficient to strip them of their positions.
Renault has refrained from firing Ghosn as chairman and CEO, although he remains in detention along with Kelly, whom Nissan also accuses of financial misconduct.
But Mitsubishi Motors plans to remove Ghosn from his post of chairman at a board meeting next week.
Amid growing uncertainty over the future of the alliance, Japan’s industry minister and France’s finance minister are due to meet in Paris on Thursday to seek ways to stabilise it.
“For me, the future of the alliance is the bigger deal,” said the Nissan official, when asked about Ghosn’s arrest. “It’s obvious that in this age, we need to do things together. To part would be impossible.”