The cabal against Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn’s deposition? This is in no way a legal matter, and even less so a penal one: it’s rather a palatial revolution. Nissan is profiting from crime, mainly its CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who struggled to hide his joy at dethroning Ghosn after nineteen years of sole reign over not just the companies that he had under his control, but also over the world of car manufacturers in general. Having saved Nissan from bankruptcy and acquired Mitsubishi last year, Ghosn is on the receiving end of accusations that he concealed his pay package…but it’s easily publicly accessible! So, admittedly, this pay package greatly shocked the Japanese business world where business leaders’ salaries are much more modest than those of their Western counterparts. However, this cultural difference is affecting the complex relations between Ghosn and the Japanese government that is becoming more and more preoccupied with the balance of power between Renault and Nissan, so much so that it broke ranks from the traditionally discrete Japanese approach to arrest – in front of cameras – Ghosn in a spectacular attempt to totally discredit him.
It’s true that Nissan’s exceptional profits and its productivity (giving it a cash flow double that of Renault per employee) grant the Japanese manufacturer a dominant position over the French one, even if the conglomerate’s structure (with the French government holding a 15% stake) greatly complicates the task for the Japanese officials who have been conspiring for a while now to take back control. It must be said that they are in conflict with the French, who are concerned with keeping the jobs that Renault creates out of danger. The fact nevertheless remains that Carlos Ghosn seems to have been toppled from his pedestal, as a meeting between the forces of Nissan and Mitsubishi has given them licence – at least on paper – to buy back the other shares, with the implicit support of the dynamic Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. It would actually be enough if Nissan bought 10% more of Renault shares, its involvement in the French company thus passing 25%, for Renault to lose its voting rights in Nissan, in accordance with Japanese law! It’s a totally realistic hypothesis that would force Renault to lose its place to the Nissan Board of Directors, a scenario which appears to have been foreseen by Carlos Ghosn who has now become the spoilsport in the affair.
Whatever it may be, the sudden ejection of Ghosn seems more than ever to be creating a rift between Renault, hurt by such an event, and Nissan, that seems to be freeing itself once and for all and by transforming the fall of Ghosn in a Freudian act consisting in killing its own father. To be sure of this, it would have sufficed to listen to the interviews granted to Japanese TV by the CEO of Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, just after Ghosn’s arrest. Instead of paying tribute to Nissan’s saviour, Saikawa was quick to make a note of Carlos Ghosn’s “long reign” and say that he would take it upon himself to “eliminate the negative aspects”, preferring not to respond to the question of whether his boss was a “tyrant or a charismatic person”! This affair of Carlos Ghosn’s arrest is therefore totally extraordinary and the criticism of him has been everything except credible. Why would an investigation have been needed to reveal his salary? In this case, this would pose for the least part grave problems of governance in a company listed on the stock market, problems that Nissan’s CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, can definitely not just brush away so easily.