MITSUBISHI Motors shareholders have approved the ousting of Carlos Ghosn, who was pivotal in the Japanese carmaker’s three-way partnership with Nissan and Renault until he was arrested on financial misconduct charges last year.
The vote took place today in a two-hour general meeting of shareholders at a Tokyo hotel, with approval shown by clapping from some 500 shareholders present, although some votes were submitted in advance. He was sacked by the board last November.
Osamu Masuko, who was reappointed chairman of Mitsubishi, promised to strengthen governance and transparency, as well as monitor wrongdoing. More outsiders will check executive appointments and compensation, he said.
Nissan shareholders held an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in April to oust Ghosn as chairman. They also approved the appointment of French alliance partner Renault SA’s chairman Jean-Dominique Senard to replace Ghosn.
Nissan, based in the port city of Yokohama, is holding a general shareholders’ meeting next week to approve other measures, including setting up committees to strengthen governance. The manufacturer said yesterday that two Renault executives will be on the committees.
Some analysts have suggested there is a deepening rift between Renault and Nissan after a planned merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler fell through earlier this month. Nissan expressed reservations about immediately joining the merger.
Masuko told shareholders the car industry faced challenges because of the costs of advancements such as emissions standards and self-driving technology. He said the Tokyo-based carmaker would pursue focus over expansion, repeatedly highlighting the company motto ‘small but beautiful’.
He also stressed the importance of car alliances, telling shareholders: ‘We want to be a profitable company even if smaller in scale.’
One Mitsubishi Motors shareholder expressed anger over the Ghosn scandal. But most of the questions asked were peaceful, and those asking them wanted to know about new models and market strategy.
Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, saving it from near-bankruptcy, had served as chairman at Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, and was long a revered figure in the industry.
He has been charged with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting retirement compensation and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and diverting Nissan money for personal gain.
Ghosn says he is innocent. He has resigned from Renault.
Nissan owns 34 per cent of Mitsubishi Motors, while Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan.