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Nissan chief wants alliance 'inequality' addressed

By Graeme Roberts | 25 June 2019

Nissan Motor has hinted the 20-year alliance with Renault could end if issues of inequality are not addressed.

Speaking to Nissan's annual general meeting in Yokohama, the first since chairman Carlos Ghosn was ousted last year, chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said he wanted to preserve the spirit of equality in the alliance - despite a shareholding structure that the Japanese partner has long seen as lopsided, Reuters reported.

The pair last week resolved a spat between Saikawa and Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard over appointments to Nissan's newly created governance committees.

"We want a win-win relationship with Renault. The alliance has been successful until now because we have respected each others' independence," Saikawa said.

"If necessary, we will put our capital structure on the table. If the relationship becomes a win-lose one, the relationship will break up very quickly."

His comments are some of the starkest in recent memory about the alliance and signal Nissan's deepening concern over the relationship.

"Our priority is to recover our performance, which means postponing discussions on the future of the alliance," Saikawa told shareholders.

"It is critical to create opportunities in the future with Renault to discuss options for the alliance. I want to discuss these with Senard."

Reuters said Nissan shareholders voted on a new governance structure and 11-member board, after the arrest last year of Ghosn over financial misconduct allegations - which he denies - revealed auditing weaknesses at the company.

The shareholders on Tuesday also returned Saikawa to the board of the automaker, as expected, the news agency noted.

In a rare public rebuke by international proxy firms against the leader of a top-tier Japanese firm, International Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis had earlier this month urged the shareholders to vote against reappointing Saikawa as a director.