French carmaker Renault said Thursday that it had named Thierry Bollore as its new chief executive and Jean-Dominique Senard as board chairman, replacing former boss Carlos Ghosn following his arrest in Japan for alleged financial misconduct. Senard, currently the CEO of tyre giant Michelin, will represent Renault in its powerful alliance with Japanese carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi, Renault added in a statement following a board meeting.
Bollore, the chief operating officer who had been Ghosn's heir apparent as CEO, has been running the company in the wake of Ghosn's sensational arrest in November. He will be tasked with coordinating Renault's side of "the alliance's activities in the operational field" under Senard's authority, the statement said.
"The board expresses its confidence in the new leadership and wishes it every success in its mission," the statement said.
Ghosn, who remains behind bars in Japan, resigned as Renault CEO and chairman late Wednesday. He had already been sacked as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi over accusations that he under-reported his income by millions of dollars over several years.
The Renault statement said merely that the board had "taken note" of Ghosn's resignation. But it added: "The board praised the alliance's track record, which has enabled it to become the world's leading automobile manufacturer."
Senard will be tasked with evaluating whether changes to Renault's governance will be necessary "in order to ensure the transition to the new structure" splitting the roles of chairman and chief executive, the statement said. He is to present his proposals to the Renault board before the next general shareholders' meeting.
Ghosn has already been stripped of his positions as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi in the wake of the allegations. The French government, Renault's biggest shareholder with a stake of more than 15 percent, is particularly keen to see the company appoint a new leader.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had last week demanded a board meeting "in the coming days" to name Ghosn's successor. The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian businessman, who was arrested on November 19, is set to remain behind bars for the forseeable future after a Tokyo court again denied him bail on Tuesday.
Prosecutors suspect he under-declared his income in official statements to Nissan shareholders between 2010 and 2015 to the tune of some five billion yen ($46 million), apparently in an attempt to avoid accusations that he was overpaid. A separate but similar charge is that he continued to do this between 2015 and 2018, under-reporting his income by a further four billion yen. He also faces a complex charge of seeking to shift personal investment losses onto Nissan's books and transferring company funds to a Saudi contact who allegedly stumped up collateral for him.
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