It’s a fall from grace as brutal as is it is sudden. Carlos Ghosn, the all-powerful boss of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, arrested as he got off his private jet in Tokyo on suspicion of tax fraud.
The boss of the world’s biggest auto alliance is due to be out of a job before the end of the week leaving a sometimes uneasy partnership hanging in the balance. Ghosn had forged for himself a unique role as the invaluable conduit between the French and the Japanese ever since he came to the rescue nearly two decades of then-ailing Nissan.
Now, the Japanese, owners of the UK’s biggest car factory seems to have the stronger hand in what promises to be a battle royale to save the alliance. Already in presenting his excuses, their ceo has vowed never again to let one single man wield so much power. Some here in French business circles wonder aloud if it’s a boardroom coup that brought about Ghosn’s exposure to tax dodging charges…
… while France’s labour unions ask about the charges at hand and remind everyone of a salary estimated at 12 million euros last year for the man who made a reputation as a ruthless job-killer… a man who back in 2016 faced a shareholders’ revolt over his pay. Is a tragedy that’s squarely of Carlos Ghosn’s own making? If so, how should the French state – which owns a crucial 15-percent stake in Renault – react to the billions wiped out on the stock market by Ghosn’s alleged greed?