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March 11, 2019

Ghosn denied Nissan board meeting participation

A Tokyo court has declined former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's request to attend a board meeting this week, a media report said.

By Olly Wehring

A Tokyo court has declined former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's request to attend a board meeting this week, a media report said.

Prosecutors submitted a document to the Tokyo District Court from Nissan stating its opposition to Ghosn attending Tuesday's board meeting, Ghosn's lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, told Reuters.

"Nissan's strong opposition to Ghosn's attendance is very regrettable," Hironaka said outside his law office. The defence team still had time to appeal the decision, he added, and the lawyers later duly filed an appeal, Reuters said, citing Kyodo News.

Ghosn was released on a $9 million bail only last week after more than 100 days in detention. He faces charges of under-reporting his salary at Nissan by about $82 million over nearly a decade – charges he has called "meritless".

The Tokyo District Court on Monday declined to temporarily suspend a condition of Ghosn's bail that stops him from meeting people linked to his case, blocking what would have been a dramatic face off between the executive and the colleagues he has accused of fomenting a coup.

The court did not give a reason for its ruling, Reuters said.

Separately, Renault, Nissan's top shareholder, confirmed it was in talks with Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors about setting up a new alliance body to improve their collaboration.

Ghosn's dramatic arrest in November had caused concerns about the future of the three-way alliance, the world's largest maker of automobiles excluding heavy trucks.

"The proposed arrangement will have no impact on the existence of the (alliance agreement) and the cross-shareholding structure, which will both remain in place," Renault told Reuters.

Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi plan to set up a joint board meeting structure under which Renault's new chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, is likely to take the chair, sources told Reuters.

That would replace Dutch-based companies currently linking Nissan and Renault and, separately, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, the sources said.

The heads of the partners would hold a press briefing at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters on Tuesday, Nissan said.

Hironaka said Ghosn would meet the press at an "opportune time" but that it would not be on Tuesday.

Some at Nissan had been unhappy with Ghosn's push for a deeper tie-up, including possibly a full merger, Reuters noted.

Ghosn was sacked as chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and resigned as chief executive of Renault after his arrest but remains on the boards of all three, given a shareholder vote is required to remove a board member.

If his request to attend the board meeting had been approved, he would have been expected to dial into the meeting via teleconference, given the conditions of his bail, according to a Reuters source.

Hironaka told the news agency Ghosn had received an invitation to the meeting with details of a time and location, and that there had been no discussion on whether he would attend in person or not.

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