PARIS — Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn has agreed to resign his posts, reports said, ahead of a meeting of the board Thursday to discuss how to replace the embattled executive.
Renault board is preparing to name new leadership as it negotiates with Ghosn over the terms of his departure, people familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg.
Ghosn agreed to resign from Renault, three sources told Reuters, after the French government, the automaker’s biggest shareholder, called for leadership change and his bail requests were rejected by the Japanese courts. French newspaper Les Echos also said Ghosn will resign.
Renault board members and Ghosn’s legal team are reviewing issues including his non-competition agreement and pension benefits, Bloomberg reported. Ghosn is ready to resign under the right conditions, a source said. A spokeswoman for the Ghosn family declined to comment.
Renault confirmed that an emergency board meeting was planned for Thursday, but a spokesman did not respond to questions about its agenda or Ghosn’s replacement.
The board will consider the proposed appointment of outgoing Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard, 65, as chairman and the promotion of Ghosn’s deputy Thierry Bollore, 55, to CEO, three sources said.
Ghosn’s resignation, after his Nov. 19 arrest and swift dismissal as Nissan chairman, turns a page on his two decades at the helm of the partnership he transformed into a global carmaking giant, following Renault’s acquisition of a near-bankrupt Nissan in 1999.
Senard will face the immediate task of soothing relations with Nissan, which is 43.4 percent-owned by Renault. Since Ghosn’s arrest, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has sought to weaken Renault’s control and resisted its attempts to nominate new directors to the Japanese carmaker’s board.
Nissan currently owns a 15 percent non-voting stake in its French parent and 34 percent in Mitsubishi Motors, a third major partner in their manufacturing alliance.
Once its new management is settled, French officials want work to resume on a new ownership structure cementing the partnership – which Ghosn had been mandated to explore when his Renault contract was renewed last year with government backing.
Nissan is wary of any such move. In an interview last week, Saikawa acknowledged shareholders’ concerns that the current structure undervalues their investment, but added that changing it was “really not the current priority.”
French finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Sunday denied Japanese press reports that France was actively pushing for a Renault-Nissan merger.
The rejection of Ghosn’s latest bail application raises the likelihood that the 64-year-old executive will remain in custody for months until his trial in Japan.
Ghosn has been in detention since Nov. 19, accused of financial crimes that could put him behind bars for decades. He has been indicted for understating his income at Nissan by tens of millions of dollars and transferring personal trading losses to the carmaker. Nissan also claims that Ghosn misused company funds, including for homes from Brazil to Lebanon, and hired his sister on an advisory contract. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing.