Renault: remains focused on alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi

Carlos Ghosn chairman and chief executive of Renault and Nissan reveals the line of Nissan Titan pickup trucks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Jan. 12 2015. The New York Times

The Board was chaired by the lead independent director Philippe Lagayette after the opening of judicial proceedings against Mr. Carlos Ghosn in Japan.

France's Renault says it has chose to keep its CEO Carlos Ghosn on despite his arrest in Japan on allegations that he misused assets of partner Nissan Motor Co. and misreported his income.

Nissan's board will decide on Thursday whether to remove Ghosn as chairman - a staggering reversal of fortune for the man credited with creating the three-way alliance which together sells more cars worldwide than any other automaker.

Nissan officials said they believe Ghosn used the under-reported 5 billion yen for private purposes by dipping into Nissan's investment funds and general expenses. He started his career at tiremaker Michelin, working there for a number of years at the same time as Ghosn, who has called him a "good candidate" to become Renault CEO.

Ghosn has also served as chairman of automakers Renault, Mitsubishi, and Nissan separately, CEO of Renault, and chairman and CEO of an alliance among the three, although his roles at all may be in doubt after this week.

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But in France, Renault said it was sticking with the fallen manager as chief executive, although it named chief operating officer Thierry Bollore as deputy CEO and handed him the "same powers" as the "temporarily incapacitated" Ghosn.

Following Ghosn and Kelly's arrests, which were based in part on evidence gathered in a Nissan internal investigation, details have begun to emerge on some of the alleged financial transgressions the pair are suspected of.

The French government, Renault's biggest shareholder, distanced itself from Ghosn in seeking a replacement. The setup has come under pressure from Nissan in recent years because of its lopsided balance of power in favor of Renault. The two companies already hold shares in one another-Renault owns 43% of Nissan and Nissan owns 15% of Renault, so the French firm has the upper hand.

In a letter sent to Renault employees on Monday, Mr Bollore expressed full support for Ghosn and pledged to preserve the alliance. France has examined Ghosn's local tax records and found "nothing particular", Le Maire said. Nissan has become the alliance's key player however, posting sales of 12 trillion yen ($106 billion) a year ago compared with Renault's 59 billion euros ($67 billion).

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