Nissan boss warns UK over possible EU exit

 

Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn warned the carmaker would have "to reconsider its strategy" if the UK exited the EU

Related Stories

Nissan will reconsider its investment in the UK if Britain leaves the European Union, chief executive Carlos Ghosn has told the BBC.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a public vote on EU membership in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next general election in 2015.

But Mr Ghosn also added that he considered the exit scenario to be unlikely.

Nissan's new model will be built in Sunderland, where it employs 6,500.

Analysis

Carlos Ghosn may be the most important global industrialist yet to have weighed into the row around the UK's membership of the EU.

In a brief interview with the global boss of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, he was upbeat about the new Qashqai and the fact that it would secure jobs in Sunderland.

He's also more positive than most about the prospects for the European auto market and for electric vehicles. But it's his comments on the UK's membership of the EU that are making the headlines.

The good news is that almost three decades after starting production in Sunderland, the plant remains a cornerstone of Nissan's operations. It was built to serve the European market. But Mr Ghosn emphasised that it is a European plant, based in the UK.

Then came the bombshell - if the UK were to leave the EU, the Nissan would have to "reconsider our strategy and investments for the future".

Mr Ghosn's empire stretches around the globe. He understands trading blocks, the merits of free trade, the consequences of trade barriers and tariffs. So his comments are pragmatic.

Would the Sunderland plant close if the UK were to leave the EU? No. But in years to come, would it remain the focus of its European operations, continually winning new models and investment? That is now far from clear.

@JohnMoylanBBC

When asked how Nissan would react if the UK were to leave the EU, Mr Ghosn said: "If anything has to change, we [would] need to reconsider our strategy and our investments for the future."

Nissan 'blessed'

Praising the Sunderland plant, Mr Ghosn told the BBC it was one of the most productive in Europe and said Nissan was "blessed" to own it.

With sales of more than 240,000 last year, the Qashqai, to be built in Sunderland, is Nissan's best-selling car in Europe.

The car accounts for more than half the output of the Sunderland plant and Mr Ghosn says the new model "ensures" a lot of jobs in the city.

This is not the first time that Mr Ghosn has linked Nissan's UK investment to the country's role within the EU.

In October 2002, he told the BBC News website that the Sunderland plant's future would depend on whether the UK adopted the euro.

However, the UK has continued to use the pound and Nissan is still making cars in Sunderland.

European market

Mr Ghosn, who is also chief executive of Nissan's sister company Renault, says that after five years of decline the European car market is arriving at "the end of the tunnel".

He says that next year, the European market should be stable with possibly a little growth.

Action by the European Central Bank, including Thursday's cut in interest rates, could help that recovery according to Mr Ghosn.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1116.

    Mr Ghosn is being totally logical. The same arguments apply to Scotland leaving the UK and the UK leaving the EU. Both would be a serious error. Large trading and free labour movement areas are critical to compete with the US, China, Russia & Japan.

  • rate this
    +37

    Comment number 260.

    Nissan and all other companies will go where they get the biggest profit. Loyalty to a workforce or country is irrelevant.
    Like it or not that's capitalism.

  • rate this
    +152

    Comment number 225.

    I think he's just stating the blinding obvious. If we left the EU they would have to factor this into investment plans. To assume they wouldn't would be foolish.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 220.

    I'm for a vote on EU, but to say that leaving EU benefits the UK is crazy. Many reasons for EU exit, but definitely not for the money.
    Globalisation needs more countries to form trade/political alliances, so that big corps can benefit from such agreements. These are where jobs come from, so unless we want to do cheap labour manufacturing again, we stay with EU.

  • rate this
    +51

    Comment number 92.

    It would be interesting to gain a wider opinion from international, non-EU businesses on how their investment would change if we left the EU.

 

Comments 5 of 8

 

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    11:10: Xiaomi camera
    Xiaomi

    Tweet picture of the day courtesy of TechCrunch, which reports that Xiaomi has introduced a bargain GoPro-style action camera that can be strapped to almost anything - even a cat...

     
  2.  
    10:54: Eurozone inflation

    Eurostat also said that consumer prices in the eurozone fell by 0.3% in February, compared with the same month last year, following a 0.6% fall in January. Economists had expected a 0.4% slide. Excluding the cost of energy and unprocessed food, prices rose by 0.6% year-on-year.

     
  3.  
    10:44: Eurozone unemployment

    Eurozone unemployment continued to fall in January, hitting its lowest level since April 2012 as the economy gained momentum. The jobless rate fell to 11.2% from 11.3% in December, with the number of people out of work down by 140,000 to just over 18m.

     
  4.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter

    Nic Fildes, technology and communications editor of The Times, tweets from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona:

    Of all the clunky telecoms buzzwords, "softwarization" is the worst. It sounds like a defunct rave act

    @NicFildes

     
  5.  
    10:13: Mortgage lending
    house building

    The number of loan approvals for house purchases fell to 60,786 in January, compared to an average of 61,666 over the previous six months, the Bank of England said today. The number of approvals for remortgaging was also down, to 31,640, compared with an average of 32,044 over the previous six months.

     
  6.  
    10:00: New coin
    coin

    Here's that new portrait of the Queen for sterling coins. It's only the fifth coin portrait of the Queen in her 63 years on the throne and the first since 1998. New coins bearing the image will now be struck, according to the Royal Mint.

     
  7.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter

    BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones tweets:

    Rory Cellan-Jones

    I think it's fair to say that Sony Eye Glass is a work in progress

    @ruskin147

     
  8.  
    09:42: North Sea gas deal BBC World News
    North sea oil rig

    Following the government decision to block the sale of 12 oil and gas fields in the North Sea to Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, Daragh McDowell, an analyst at risk analytics firm Verisk Maplecroft tells BBC World Business Report: "To allow Russian investment in North Sea offshore oil would definitely run counter to the spirit, if not the letter, of existing sanctions."

     
  9.  
    Globalisation Via Twitter
    Factory workers in Sri Lanka

    Duncan Weldon, Newsnight economics correspondent, asks whether globalisation is slowing down.

     
  10.  
    09:12: Brand new
    chocolate

    Marks & Spencer, Cadbury and Heinz have all taken a dip in consumers' affections, according to the annual Consumer Superbrands survey. British Airways topped the survey, while messing with the Creme Egg hurt Cadbury. What say you, readers? Which brands do you love - or love to hate? bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

     
  11.  
    08:57: Pension charges
    Steve Webb

    Pensions minister Steve Webb is worried that the "dark corners" of the investment and pensions industry are hiding some "nasty surprises". As a result, the Financial Conduct Authority and Department for Work and Pensions have called on the industry to help draft new rules on how the cost of workplace pension schemes should be reported to savers. "We have a duty to throw light for the first time on potential hidden charges - and restore faith and fairness in British pensions," Mr Webb says.

     
  12.  
    Mobile World Congress Via Twitter
    Lumia phones

    Leo Kelion, technology desk editor of BBC news website, tweets: #Sony and #Microsoft have new phones at #MWC - but they're not flagships - here's why

     
  13.  
    08:28: Newspaper review
    paper

    The FT reports that Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman will fight to buy those North Sea gas assets. The Wall Street Journal analyses the complex relationship between mobile operators and social networks and whether they should defriend each other. The Times takes a look at more companies coming forward to tackle RBS's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) and its alleged habit of putting them to the wall. RBS says a legal inquiry found no evidence it "set out to artificially distress otherwise viable businesses", The Times reports.

     
  14.  
    08:13: Watch out
    watch

    Technology fans will be watching the Mobile World Congress, which kicks off in Barcelona today, for the latest gadgets. Manufacturers seem determined to get us to buy a smartwatch. Apple and its rivals such as Samsung are trying to make the things prettier and more useful, AFP reports, having interviewed various analysts. Will you be tempted?

     
  15.  
    07:59: Trinity Mirror
    Mirror.co.uk

    Trinity Mirror will start paying a dividend for the first time since 2008 - of 3p a share - as pre-tax profits rose 1% to £102.3m for 2014, the Daily Mirror publisher said. However, print advertising revenue fell 14.1% in the second half of the year as supermarkets cut their spending.

     
  16.  
    07:45: Thorntons
    choc

    A "mixed performance" from Thorntons, chief executive Jonathan Hart tells investors. International sales rose by 19.9% to £5.4m in the first half of the company's financial year, but UK commercial sales melted away by 12.4% to £54.7m. Sounds more like a pick 'n' mixed bag to us...

     
  17.  
    07:32: Nationwide house prices
    For sale sign

    House prices fell by 0.1% in February, according to Nationwide - the first decline in five months, since September. That brought the annual rate of price rises to 5.7% compared with 6.8% in January - a sharper than expected slowdown.

     
  18.  
    07:16: Lib Dems Norman Smith Assistant political editor, BBC News
    Lib Dems

    The Liberal Democrats announce the first of many proposed tax rises today as part of their vow to pay off the deficit by 2018 by increasing the tax take rather than cutting spending further. Norman Smith tells Radio 4's Today programme that banks would have all the cuts in corporation tax since 2010 wiped out in a move that would generate about £1bn for the public purse. However, the Lib Dems still need to raise a further £7bn or so to make their sums add up, he adds.

     
  19.  
    07:02: Buffett letter
    bricks

    A quick reminder of what Mr Buffett's company owns. Among other businesses, Berkshire Hathaway owns about half of Heinz, engine oil firm Lubrizol, clothing maker Fruit of the Loom, the pleasingly named Acme Brick company and private plane operator NetJets. He also owns stakes in Mars, Coca Cola and American Express.

     
  20.  
    06:50: Bank shares BBC Radio 4

    David Cumming, head of equities at Standard Life, tells presenter Simon Jack on Today there is a "lot of noise" around banking stocks given the regulatory pressure the sector is now under, meaning they have a "higher than average risk profile". He also thinks the FTSE 100 will crack the 7,000 mark in the next few weeks as the economy continues to improve.

     
  21.  
    06:37: East Coast trains Radio 5 live
    train

    The East Coast rail route between London and Scotland has returned to private hands after more than five years in the public sector. David Horne of Virgin Trains East Coast is on 5 live. He says Virgin has done a good job with the West Coast line. National Express took over the line during a recession, so starting a franchise now should work better for Virgin, Horne adds.

     
  22.  
    06:24: Market update

    China's decision to cut interest rates over the weekend - the second reduction in four months - in a bid to ward off deflation has boosted stock markets in Asia today, with Sydney up 0.5% as mining companies bounced higher, while the Nikkei in Tokyo and the Shanghai Composite were both 0.3% higher.

     
  23.  
    06:11: Buffett letter Radio 5 live
    warren

    Sue Noffke, fund manager at asset manager Schroders, is 5 live's markets guest. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett sent his annual letter to shareholders on Saturday, summing up his 50 years building one of the planet's biggest companies. Because he behaves more like an owner than an investor, "he has had a longer-term investment horizon" than other investors, says Ms Noffke.

     
  24.  
    06:02: Software security Radio 5 live

    Online security firm AVG's chief executive Gary Kovacs is on 5 live speaking from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress tech show about security breaches. The internet has "only been around for 20 years," so securing the place is now a priority, he says. A podcast is now on the website.

     
  25.  
    06:01: Chris Johnston Business reporter

    Good morning! Get in touch via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or on Twitter @BBCBusiness

     
  26.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning everyone. Welcome to Monday. The UK government has said it will block the sale of 12 North Sea oil and gas fields to Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman after concerns about the effect of "possible future sanctions". Stay tuned for more of the best business news.

     

Features

  • A very clever little girlBrain gain

    Why are people getting better at intelligence tests?


  • Don Roberto Placa Quiet Don

    The world's worst interview - with one of the loneliest men on Earth


  • A reveller attends celebrations to mark the 450th anniversary of the city of Rio de Janeiro - 1 March 2015Partying in the streets

    Rio de Janeiro marks 450 years since it was founded


  • BeefaloBeefalo hunt

    The hybrid animal causing havoc in the Grand Canyon


From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • BatteriesClick Watch

    More power to your phone - the lithium-ion batteries that could last twice as long

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.