Fca-renault Merger Talks: France Wants Job Guarantees And Nissan On Board

FCA-Renault merger talks: France wants job guarantees and Nissan on board

PARIS — France will seek protection of local jobs and other guarantees in exchange for supporting a merger between carmakers Renault and Fiat Chrysler, its finance minister said on Tuesday, underscoring the challenges facing the plan. Separately, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard arrived in Japan to discuss the proposed tie-up with the French company's existing partner Nissan — another potential obstacle to the $35 billion-plus merger of equals. Renault and Italian-American rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) are in talks to tackle the costs of far-reaching technological and regulatory changes by creating the world's third-biggest automaker. Shares in both companies jumped on Monday on news of a deal that would create an industry No.3 behind Japan's Toyota and Germany's Volkswagen and target 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) a year in savings. Renault shares were up 1.3 percent by 1030 GMT, extending gains from Monday when the stock had closed up 12 percent. Fiat shares were flat in Milan but the U.S. listed stock was indicated 8 percent higher after a public holiday on Monday. Analysts caution the companies face a challenge to win over powerful stakeholders ranging from the French and Italian governments, to trade unions and Nissan. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio on Tuesday the plan was a good opportunity for both Renault and the European car industry, which has been struggling for years with over-capacity and subdued demand. But he added the French government would seek four guarantees in exchange for backing a deal that would see its 15% stake in Renault reduced to 7.5% of the combined entity.

France's conditions

"The first: industrial jobs and industrial sites. I told the Renault chairman very clearly that it was the first of the guarantees I wanted from him in the opening of these negotiations. A guarantee on the preservation of industrial jobs and sites in France," said Le Maire. The minister also said France wanted to be well represented on the board of the new company, for it to be a leader in developing electric batteries, and for the deal to take place "within the framework of the alliance between Renault and Nissan." A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday that Renault and FCA had given commitments about maintaining industrial jobs and sites, leaving room for white-collar and engineering layoffs as well as some plant downsizing. Also on Monday, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said Rome might need to take a stake in the combined company, balancing France's shareholding. Le Maire said he had spoken to the Japanese personally about the proposed tie-up. Asked how they had responded, he replied: "I look at the reaction of Nissan president Mr Saikawa, and it's a reaction that is open." Analysts have said Nissan, which is 43% owned by Renault and has a 15% non-voting stake in the French firm, might be reluctant to back an FCA-Renault tie-up that would probably use its technology less than the current Renault-Nissan alliance. However, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told Japanese TV on Tuesday that "strengthening the alliance and constructive discussions are forward looking, and we are open to constructive discussions." The Renault-Nissan alliance has been under strain since the arrest and ouster of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn late last year on charges of financial misconduct, with Nissan recently rebuffing a merger proposal from its partner.

Nissan Shareholders Oust Carlos Ghosn From Board Of Directors

Nissan shareholders oust Carlos Ghosn from board of directors

TOKYO — Nissan's shareholders approved on Monday the ouster from the Japanese automaker's board of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who is facing allegations of financial misconduct. The approval, which was expected, was indicated by applause from the more than 4,000 people gathered at a Tokyo hotel for a three-hour extraordinary shareholders' meeting. Other votes had been submitted in advance. Ahead of the vote, Nissan's top executive apologized to shareholders for the scandal at the Japanese automaker and asked them to approve Ghosn's dismissal. Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa and other Nissan executives bowed deeply in apology to shareholders attending the extraordinary meeting at a Tokyo hotel. Shareholders also approved the appointment of French alliance partner Renault SA's Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to replace Ghosn. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan. Senard, introduced to shareholders at the meeting's end, thanked them and promised to do his best to keep the automaker's performance on track. "I will dedicate my energy to enhance the future of Nissan," said Senard. The shareholders also gave a green light to removing from the board a former executive direct, Greg Kelly, who has been charged with collaborating with Ghosn in the alleged misconduct. Angry shareholders demanded an explanation for how wrongdoing on an allegedly massive scale had gone unchecked for years. The meeting was closed except to stockholders but livestreamed. One shareholder said Nissan's entire management should resign immediately. Saikawa said he felt his responsibility lay in fixing the shoddy corporate governance at Nissan first, and continuing to lead its operations. Another shareholder asked if Nissan was prepared for a damage lawsuit from shareholders since its stock price has plunged. "I deeply, deeply apologize for all the worries and troubles we have caused," Saikawa said. "This is an unprecedented and unbelievable misconduct by a top executive." He outlined the findings of an internal investigation, such as payments of a consultation fee to Ghosn's sister for 13 years. The investigation has also found too much power had been focused in one person, he said. Ken Miyamoto, 65, a Nissan shareholder, said he was disappointed. "It is really such a pity as he was a brilliant manager," Miyamoto said of Ghosn before heading into the meeting. "I guess he became complacent as people kept praising him too much." Ghosn says he is innocent of all allegations and has suggested the accusations were made by some people at Nissan hoping to remove him from power. He has been charged with under-reporting his compensation in financial documents, and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and making suspect payments to a Saudi businessman. Ghosn says the compensation was never decided on or paid, no investment losses were suffered by Nissan, and the payments were for legitimate services. Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in early March and then re-arrested for a fourth time last week. The latest arrest was in connection with fresh allegations that $5 million sent by a Nissan Motor Co. subsidiary and meant for an Oman dealership was diverted to a company effectively controlled by Ghosn. His detention on that allegation has been approved through April 14 but could be extended. The date of his trial has not been set. Carole Ghosn, the wife of Carlos Ghosn, appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron for help. "I'm asking that we allow him the presumption of innocence like all French citizens, and France must do something," she told France's RTL radio. She was with her husband in Tokyo when he was arrested last week, an ordeal she described as humiliating. Japanese investigators confiscated her Lebanese passport, but she used her American passport to leave for France on Friday, she said. "I'd never been so proud of him because he remained dignified. He held his head high and he was calm," she said. Ghosn's lawyers in Japan said that Tuesday they will show a videotape of Ghosn's comments. It was taped before he was taken into custody. Yokohama-based Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, was on the brink of bankruptcy when Renault sent Ghosn to turn it around two decades ago. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance now rivals auto giants Volkswagen AG of Germany and Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. in global sales. Saikawa told shareholders the company will stick by the alliance, fix its governance problems and make the ouster of Ghosn "a turning point." "We had allowed a system in which wrongdoing could be carried out without detection," he said.

Nissan's Ghosn Removed From Board

Nissan's Ghosn removed from board

Nissan shareholders have removed former Chairman Carlos Ghosn from the company's board.

Ghosn no longer holds any post at the company, ending a nearly two-decade relationship.

Court Rejects Carlos Ghosn's Request To Attend Nissan Board Meeting

Court rejects Carlos Ghosn's request to attend Nissan board meeting

TOKYO — A Japanese court has rejected a request by former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, released on bail last week, to attend the Japanese automaker's board meeting on Tuesday. Nissan dismissed Ghosn as chairman after his Nov. 19 arrest, but he remains on the board. The Tokyo District Court said it rejected Ghosn's request on Monday but did not elaborate on the reasons. It had been unclear whether Ghosn could attend the board meeting. The court's approval was needed based on restrictions imposed for his release on bail. The restrictions say he cannot tamper with evidence, and attending the board meeting could be seen as putting pressure on Nissan employees. Prosecutors had been expected to argue against his attendance. They were not available for immediate comment. Ghosn has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his compensation and breach of trust in making payments to a Saudi businessman and having Nissan shoulder investment losses. He insists he is innocent, saying the compensation was never decided or paid, the payments were for legitimate services and Nissan never suffered the losses. Since his release on March 6 from Tokyo Detention Center on 1 billion yen ($9 million) bail, he has been spotted taking walks in Tokyo with his family, but he has not made any comments. His attempt to exercise what his lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, called his "duty" by attending the board meeting signals one way he may be fighting back. Hironaka has said Ghosn will speak to reporters soon. A date for a news conference has not been announced. Nissan said Monday that Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Renault Chief Executive Thierry Bollore, Nissan Motor Co. CEO Hiroto Saikawa, and Osamu Masuko, the chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., will hold a joint news conference Tuesday after the board meeting. Nissan appears determined to highlight new leadership without Ghosn. It is part of an alliance with Renault SA of France, and more recently with Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, that was largely cobbled together by Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades. Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models, has denounced Ghosn for alleged misconduct. A decision at a shareholders' meeting is needed to remove Ghosn from the board. A shareholders' meeting is scheduled for next month.

Stu48 Shoots Pv For 'shukkou' On Board A Ship

STU48 shoots PV for 'Shukkou' on board a ship

STU48 have revealed the PV for "Shukkou," which is the coupling track to their second single "Kaze wo Matsu" to be released on February 13. 

"Shukkou" is the group's first song where all members participate in the singing. The center is captain Okada Nana, and it's her first time serving as center for the group. 

Reuters: Renault Board Divided Over Ghosn

Reuters: Renault board divided over Ghosn

Reuters news agency says some of the board members at French automaker Renault have expressed doubts about keeping Carlos Ghosn in the top post, and that the French government has begun seeking candidates to replace him.

Renault and Nissan are partners. Ghosn was dismissed as chairman of the Japanese automaker following his arrest in Tokyo for alleged financial misconduct.

Nissan To Hold Board Meeting Over Ghosn Thursday

Nissan to hold board meeting over Ghosn Thursday

Nissan Motor is to hold an extraordinary board meeting on Thursday to decide whether Chairman Carlos Ghosn will be removed from his executive positions.

Ghosn was arrested on Monday on suspicion of underreporting his income. Another executive, Greg Kelly, was also arrested. Nissan points to Kelly's involvement in Ghosn's alleged wrongdoing.

Board Of Audit: Spending Balloons For 2020 Games

Board of Audit: Spending balloons for 2020 Games

Japan's Board of Audit says the government has already spent more than 5 times the original estimate on projects related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Board officials said on Thursday that state spending has topped 800 billion yen, or about 7 billion dollars. That compares with the estimated cost of 1.3 billion dollars.