Renault shareholders narrowly approve Ghosn’s $8.6 million salary

PARIS — Renault shareholders approved CEO Carlos Ghosn’s 7.4 million euro ($8.6 million) compensation for 2017, averting a boardroom crisis as the carmaker explores closer consolidation with alliance partner Nissan.

Investors backed Ghosn’s renewal for another four-year board term and voted by 56 to 43 percent in favor of last year’s payout – in addition to which he received 9.2 million euros in his final year as Nissan chief executive.

Ghosn lost a 2016 shareholder vote on pay. He agreed to cut his 2018 compensation by 30 percent to secure French government backing for his renewal. France, Renault’s biggest shareholder with a 15 percent stake, opposed the 2017 payout but backed this year’s reduced package.

Paris-based Proxinvest, a shareholder advisory firm, had recommended voting against last year’s package on the grounds that Ghosn’s additional Nissan salary was poorly disclosed and bonuses too high. But rival proxy advisor ISS backed the payout, saying it “does not raise any significant concern.”

Under French pressure, Ghosn, 64, is exploring deal options for a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance that is better equipped to survive its main architect. Reuters reported in March that the carmakers were discussing a deeper tie-up.

Renault currently owns 43.4 percent of Japanese affiliate Nissan, which in turn holds 34 percent of Mitsubishi and 15 percent of Renault with no voting rights.

In a Le Figaro interview published on Friday, Ghosn sounded upbeat about the prospect securing of a new alliance deal despite its extreme political sensitivity in France and Japan. “We have already made good progress on the subject,” he said.

A plan would need to be announced “well before the end of my (four-year) term – or even rather at the start,” Ghosn told the paper. He has provided few clues about how the relationship between the companies should change.

He has named Thierry Bollore as chief operating officer, putting him in line to eventually become CEO. He told Le Figaro that Bollore is a good candidate for the top job, but the board will ultimately decide.

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