TOKYO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Renault’s chairman will meet Nissan Motor’s CEO this week in Japan as they look at ways to cement their partnership after the ouster of former alliance leader Carlos Ghosn, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said on Tuesday that Jean-Dominique Senard, named chairman of the French automaker last month, would visit Japan to become better acquainted with its Japanese partner, the Nikkei business daily reported.
“First of all, we have to restore trust and stabilize the relationship,” the Nikkei quoted Saikawa as saying. “We want him to know more about Nissan’s (management) team.”
Kyodo news reported that Senard would visit for two days from Feb. 14. Nissan was not immediately available for comment.
Senard, formerly CEO of tire maker Michelin, joined Renault as chairman in late January after Ghosn was forced to resign from the French automaker in the wake of his arrest in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct.
Relations between the firms had already been strained before Senard’s appointment as Nissan had moved earlier to dismiss Ghosn from its helm after his arrest on Nov. 19 in Tokyo.
Ghosn has been indicted in Japan for under-reporting his Nissan salary for eight years and temporarily transferring personal losses on to the automaker’s books around during the global financial crisis.
The once-feted executive, credited for turning around both Renault and Nissan, remains in detention as he awaits trial that could be several months away. He denies any wrongdoing.
Speculation about the future capital structure of the Renault-Nissan partnership has been rife since the arrest of Ghosn, who had been exploring ways to make the alliance “irreversible” before his arrest.
But Saikawa has argued it is not time to discuss the ideal structure of the alliance, although he has said he wants to work closely with Senard who will likely sit on Nissan’s board.
The automaking alliance has been underpinned by Renault’s 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, which in turn owns a 15 percent non-voting stake in Renault.
The French government owns a 15 percent stake in Renault.
The head of Japan’s industry ministry on Tuesday denied media reports that the government had been told by France that it could lower its stake in Nissan, Jiji news reported, echoing a similar denial by France’s finance ministry last week. (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Himani Sarkar)