Published on January 17th, 2019 | by Maarten Vinkhuyzen
January 17th, 2019 by Maarten Vinkhuyzen
Without Carlos Ghosn’s protection, a Nissan takeover by Renault is likely.
History is sometimes ironic.
The French state saw Carlos Ghosn’s refusal to merge Nissan into Renault as an obstacle to the growth of the former national car company. They attributed it to his megalomania, and not to sentiments within Nissan and Japan. He could only keep his job at Renault when he promised to make the alliance irreversible, nearly as good as a full merger. That job would be for his successor.
At Nissan, they saw Carlos Ghosn as a threat to their independence and the more influential role in the Alliance they thought they deserved. Without Ghosn, they could finally claim their shining role in the international car branch. After successfully incapacitating Ghosn and removing him from his Japanese management positions, the next goal is to remove him from Renault.
The Renault management refuses to cooperate, but Nissan has found an unlikely ally in the French state. This week, two high French dignitaries are visiting Japan to negotiate with Nissan. Officially to discuss the future of the Alliance.
The offer Nissan can expect could be something like: “We drop that obnoxious Carlos Ghosn, when you agree to become part of Group Renault, just like Dacia and Lada.” Not really the future Nissan was envisioning.
What likely escaped Nissan is that Carlos Ghosn was their champion in France, defending them for over a decade against more influence by Renault and the French state. Without this bulwark to protect Nissan, the forces that control 43.4% of Nissan stock from Paris are in a very strong position to determine the future relations of the partners in the Alliance once and for all.