Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan group, is expected to be fired on Thursday. Picture: Steve Marcus / Reuters.
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan group, is expected to be fired on Thursday. Picture: Steve Marcus / Reuters.

Renault-Nissan's 'Le Cost Killer' didn't come cheap

By Staff Reporters Time of article published Nov 20, 2018

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Paris - In his 40 years in the motor industry, the praise Carlos Ghosn has won for turning around businesses has regularly been matched by criticism over the amount he has been paid to do it.

In the latest furore over his finances, Nissan said on Monday that it planned to oust Ghosn as chairman after alleging he had made personal use of company assets, among other acts of suspected misconduct.

The scandal comes just five months after the 64-year-old head of the Renault-Nissan alliance narrowly won a shareholder vote at Renault over his 7.4 million euro (R119m) pay package for 2017, after losing a 2016 vote.

Brazilian-born, of Lebanese descent and a French citizen, Ghosn began his career in 1978 at tyremaker Michelin, before moving to Renault in 1996, where he oversaw a turnaround at the French carmaker that won him the nickname "Le Cost Killer."

Working alongside then CEO Louis Schweitzer, he helped return the company to profitability by making the former state-owned carmaker leaner and more efficient.

After Renault sealed an alliance with Nissan in 1999, Ghosn used similar methods to revive the ailing Japanese brand, leading to "business superstar" status in Japan, blanket media coverage and even a manga comic book on his life.

"A boss has to have 100 percent freedom to act and 100 percent responsibility for what he does. I have never tolerated any wavering from that principle, I will never accept any interference," he once said.

As car markets in western Europe and Japan struggled, Ghosn championed a cheap car for the masses in emerging markets and embraced the electric vehicle before many others.

He also never made it a secret that he believed there were too many carmakers in the world and consolidation would continue - in 2016 he added Mitsubishi to the alliance.

Born to be a car guy

Crossing borders and adapting to different cultures have never been a problem for 64-year-old Ghosn.

Born in Brazil on March 9, 1954, to Lebanese parents, he was reportedly able to distinguish types of cars at the age of five just by the sound of their horns.

At the age of six, he went to live in the Lebanese capital Beirut with his mother and attended a Jesuit high school there.

Later he moved to Paris where he picked up degrees at two of France's most elite schools, including the Polytechnique engineering university.

His Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English are fluent, and he has picked up a working knowledge of Japanese during his time at Nissan.

Yet he also fiercely guarded his personal time and maintains his ties with Lebanon, where he has invested in a winery.

"I do not bring my work home. I play with my four children and spend time with my family on weekends," he once told Fortune magazine.

"When I go to work on Monday... I come up with good ideas as a result of becoming stronger after being recharged."

Reuters & AFP

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