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Japan court bars ex-Nissan chief Ghosn from attending automaker's board meeting

Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP | Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyers' offices on March 6, 2019 after his release earlier in the day from a detention centre after posting bail in Tokyo.

A Tokyo court rejected ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s request to attend a board meeting this week, broadcaster NHK reported, denying him a seat at the table even as the car maker looks set to bolster an alliance he built over two decades.

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Ghosn, released last week on a $9 million bail after more than 100 days in detention, had applied to the Tokyo District Court for permission to attend Tuesday’s board meeting, as per bail conditions, his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka told reporters.

But the Tokyo District Court denied the request on Monday, NHK said, stopping what would have been a dramatic face off between Ghosn and the colleagues he has accused of fomenting a coup. Further details of the denial were not available.

Hironaka is expected to hold another briefing for reporters later in the day.

Ghosn faces charges of under-reporting his salary at Nissan by about $82 million over nearly a decade - charges he has called “meritless”.

The report of the court’s decision came as French automaker Renault SA, 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 has 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 said.

Joint board meeting

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, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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

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

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

One of the world’s best-known auto executives, Ghosn was sacked as chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and resigned as chief executive of Renault after his arrest.

However, he 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 person familiar with Nissan’s thinking.

(REUTERS)

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