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Carlos Ghosn: Playing Ghost

Carlos Ghosn: Playing Ghost

At the moment (12/31/2019), it appears one of the world's most successful auto executives has become a high-profile fugitive. Former Nissan and Renault chief Carlos Ghosn has fled Japan, where he was awaiting trial (April 2021) on alleged financial crimes, to Lebanon. Ghosn is grappling with four financial charges, including spending and enriching himself with payment funds for car dealers in the Middle East. He was also accused of stashing a payment of $ 80 million from Nissan.

Ghosn meanwhile, in Lebanon and apparently beyond the reach of Japanese prosecutors, “can say what he wants, he has no more constraints,” the source said. He accuses executives there of effectively setting him up, in a bid to block his plans for further integration with Nissan’s French partner Renault. And in a news conference on Wednesday in Lebanon, where he emerged after his audacious escape, he slammed its executives, accusing them of losing shareholder value and pursuing a vendetta.

Ghosn’s escape causes Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co face the worst-performing carmakers on the Bloomberg World Auto Manufacturers Index in 2019, falling 23% and 28%, respectively. Ferrari NV, Kia Motors Corp. and Tesla Inc. logged some of the biggest gains. Moreover, on Jan 13, Paris/Tokyo, Renault RENA.PA shares hit six-year lows on Monday as investors worried the flight of former boss Carlos Ghosn from Japanese justice had deepened a rift with Nissan 7201.T that could lead to a break-up of the 20-year alliance. At 1344 GMT, Renault shares were also down 2.4% at the bottom of Paris' CAC40.FCHI, after earlier falling more than 3%.

Key to the partnership's survival is reviving plans this year for new joint industrial projects, which sources said have stalled as the scandal engulfed the companies. Some developments set in motion during the Ghosn era are due to come to fruition in 2020 - Nissan's crossover electric car, based on its Ariya concept model, will be the first to launch on the two firms' new joint electric platform, and in 2021 a Renault equivalent should also take shape.

In the other hand, Yamaha is reminding people that musical equipment cases are for musical equipment—not people—two weeks after fugitive auto titan Carlos Ghosn reportedly was smuggled out of Japan in one. Multiple media outlets have reported that Ghosn managed to sneak through a Japanese airport to a private jet that whisked him out of the country by hiding in a large, black music equipment case with breathing holes drilled in the bottom. However, brands sometimes capitalize on their tangential relationship to big news in order to attract attention on social media. Yamaha is one of Japan's best known brands and Ghosn was one of Japan's top executives before being ousted from Nissan — a match made in social media heaven. Not surprisingly, Yamaha's post went viral on Twitter over the weekend.

Sources: CNN Bloomberg Nasdaq CNBC Japan Times

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