France: "the only failure of Carlos Ghosn was the difficulty to prepare the succession"

Carlos Ghosn is no longer the CEO of the Alliance between Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi among others. The board of directors of the French brand is the last one; to discover it. The diamond group will have put more ...

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Carlos Ghosn, The CEO of Renault and the Renault-Nissan Alliance during a press conference in Paris, September 15, 2017 REUTERS / Philippe Wojazer

Carlos Ghosn is no longer the CEO of the Alliance between Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi among others. The board of the French brand is the last to dethrone him. The diamond group will have more than two months to let go of its emblematic boss who had taken the lead of the French group in 2005. What assessment to draw Ghosn years? How to explain the fall of the one who was considered the boss of the bosses and who today in detention? Philippe Riès is a journalist. Former director of the AFP office in Tokyo, he had written a biography of Carlos Ghosn, and was one of the few to have worked with him for a long time. He analyzes in several points the Ghosn affair.

Rfi: Philippe Riès, Carlos Ghosn is no longer the CEO of Renault. Did this spectacular ending surprise you?

Philippe Riès: What has not surprised me at all is the way it is handled by the Japanese judicial system. But the way this brilliant career - because we can not describe it otherwise - ends, yes. Undeniably, it's a surprise and I think it's a surprise for the entire planet.

Can we talk about judicial harassment against Carlos Ghosn, incarcerated for more than two months now.

We can talk, first of all, about discrimination. No Japanese boss involved in malpractice whose consequences were incommensurable - the Takata airbag is about twenty dead, the rigging of figures at Toshiba is billions of dollars! - none of these business leaders have received such attention from the Tokyo Prosecutor's Office.

Secondly, it is an exorbitant treatment with regard to the rights of the defense. Unannounced interrogations that can last eight hours a day, seven days a week. An almost indefinite warning, since the prosecutor can afford to keep custody. This is a system that I see in the Moscow trial.

What is the result of Carlos Ghosn's action since 1999, since he has dramatically improved Nissan?

It is, in my opinion, undoubtedly the biggest industrial boss of the first twenty years of the 21st century.

Why the biggest boss?

Because it has, from two companies, [one of which, Renault was a small French manufacturer limited to the European markets, financially fragile, with a shareholding complicated by the presence of the State and another company, Nissan, bankrupt], ​​built in twenty years a set that was, in May 2017, the world's largest automaker.

So what exactly is the alliance between these automobile industry groups?

The alliance, contrary to what we always say, is not only Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. These are nine companies. There is AvtoVAZ: 40% of the Russian market. There is the joint venture with Dongfeng , which has become a very important automotive producer for all of Southeast Asia. It's also Dacia, so it's 500,000 people around the world. This is an absolutely exceptional success and it is a model of management that made school.

Is this alliance not currently breaking out behind the scenes?

She is absolutely not threatened. It is simply not settling! The level of integration of companies has become such, for purchases, research, investments, industrial sites, that it is impossible to untie this alliance. Renault can have a Nissan factory built and vice versa. Renault can rely on Nissan's presence in China to establish itself. So, there are no threats on the alliance in the short and medium term. But the threat to the alliance is much more long-term, given the conditions in which Carlos Goshn was eliminated, to restore confidence between the teams will be truly a tour de force. I wish good luck to the one who will take over from Carlos Ghosn.

According to you, what are the failures to put in the liabilities of the governance of Carlos Ghosn?

In my opinion, a major failure of the management of Carlos Ghosn, it is the difficulty to prepare the succession. I do not mean that he did not try. He sought to bring up younger people by brutalizing a little the famous system of promotion to the seniority of Japanese companies. And look, once again, at the age of Nissan's current staff: they are people who have been in the house for forty years! So, who participated in Nissan's old management, who drove Nissan right into the wall and went bankrupt.