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Ghosn is in the firing line again when the Mitsubishi Motors board meets


TOKYO (Reuters) – The Mitsubishi Motors Corp. board will meet on Monday to remove Carlos Ghosn from his role as chairman after his arrest and dismissal from alliance partner Nissan Motor Co last week for alleged financial violations.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attended the Tomorrow In Motion event on the eve of the press at the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 1, 2018. REUTERS / Regis Duvignau

Ghosn's abolition by the eight-member Mitsubishi board, which meets at the headquarters of the Tokyo automaker at 1630 (0730 GMT) will end its leadership from Japanese carmakers amid dissatisfaction with the role of French partner Renault SA in the 19-year alliance.

Ghosn was the driving force of the alliance that Renault and Nissan sealed in 1999, when the Japanese manufacturer was rescued from bankruptcy. It was enlarged in 2016 to include Mitsubishi and allow members to jointly develop products and control costs.

The alliance competes with Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Toyota Motor Corp. to rank the world's largest automaker.

Even when Nissan had recovered and developed rapidly, it remained a junior partner in the shareholder structure. Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan and Japanese carmakers hold 15 percent of non-voting shares in French companies. And Nissan is almost 60 percent bigger than Renault with sales.

Top alliance executives met this week in Amsterdam, which aims to protect their joint operations from the fall of Ghosn's capture as a power struggle between Nissan and Renault. Renault has refrained from firing him as chairman and CEO.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told staff on Monday that power was too concentrated with Ghosn and that in the future better communication between alliance board members and executives would help maintain independence and produce synergies among car makers, a Nissan spokesman said.

Ghosn pushed for deeper ties, including the potential full merger between Renault and Nissan at the insistence of the French government, despite strong objections in Japanese companies.

Nissan removed Ghosn at a high betting board meeting on Thursday after accusations of understating his income and using company money for personal use.

Ghosn denied the allegations, NHK reported on Sunday.

His shooting from Mitsubishi Motors will mark the deletion of people credited with the company after being rocked by a fraud scandal in 2016.

Nissan holds a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors and has two executives on board. The other deputy director is CEO Osamu Masuko, who said last week the alliance might be difficult to manage without Ghosn.

While car manufacturers have stressed that operations and business are operating as usual, Nissan has postponed the launch of its high-performance Leaf electric car "to ensure that the launch of this important product can receive decent coverage", said a Nissan spokesman.

Mitsubishi Motors shares rose 3.3 percent, while Nissan rose 1.8 percent, beating the 0.8 percent broader market increase.

Reported by Maki Shiraki, Sam Nussey and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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