By Justin Harper
By Theo Leggett
Business correspondent, BBC News
- Copyright: Reuters
We told you earlier about Japanese car giant Nissan's latest woes, but its French ally Renault, of which it owns 43%, is also having a tough time today.
The French carmaker has reported its first annual loss in a decade and cut its 2020 margin target, as it too attempts to put the Carlos Ghosn affair behind it.
Renault's net income figures showed a loss of €141m (£117m), partly because of charges linked to some of its Chinese joint ventures.
"It has been a tough year for Groupe Renault and the alliance," said acting chief executive Clotilde Delbos, adding that a downturn in the car market had come "right when we were facing internal difficulties".
Renault said its 2020 operating margin target would be between 3% and 4%, down from 4.8% in 2019. It also cut its proposed dividend by almost 70% from a year earlier.
BBC International Business Correspondent
The Renault-Nissan Alliance, which these days includes Mitsubishi as well, was largely the creation of Carlos Ghosn.
His departure exposed deep rifts between the French and Japanese camps, however, and cast doubt over its future.
Reports from Japan this week even suggested Nissan executives were war gaming possible plans for a divorce from its French partner.
Renault has denied that the relationship is on the rocks. But could a split happen?
If it did, it would be far from easy. The companies are closely integrated.
There's the small issue of cross-shareholdings, for example - Renault holds a 43.5% stake in Nissan, for example, and really calls the shots in the relationship.
Then there are the combined supply chains, which allow both companies to keep their costs down; not to mention the common 'modules' that the cars themselves are built from, and their joint manufacturing operations. As in any divorce, dividing things up could get rather messy.
And would a divorce actually help? Ghosn's departure highlighted rifts between the companies - and in particular the deep concerns in Japan at the influence wielded over Renault and the Alliance itself by the French government.
But the fact remains that together, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi make up one of the biggest and most powerful carmaking groups in the world.
On their own, each of them would be relatively minor players. Meanwhile other firms are rushing into partnerships and mergers in order to share the huge costs of developing electric cars and autonomous systems.
Nissan executives may be dreaming of the single life. But if they were to go ahead, like many divorcees, they might find the world a more cold and lonely place than they expected.
Carlos Ghosn flew into Japan in 2018 one of the most powerful motor industry executives in the world. More than a year later, he left as a fugitive.Copyright: Rebecca Hendin/BBC
- Copyright: BBC
Looking further afield, shares in French car giant Renault have hit a six year low this morning after reports suggested that Nissan has accelerated secret contingency planning for a potential split from the firm.
The plans include war-gaming a total split in engineering and manufacturing, as well as changes to Nissan’s board, according to the Financial Times.
Shares are down at 40.41, after dropping 3.43% today.
BBC International Business CorrespondentCopyright: Reuters
It was a bravura performance. Mr Ghosn is no longer the star of the auto industry, but whatever the truth or otherwise of the charges against him, he clearly still knows how to work a room.
He railed against the Japanese justice system, which he said violated the basic principles of humanity. He condemned the “vindictive, inglorious individuals” he claimed were conspiring against him. He offered a detailed defence to counter the claims Japanese prosecutors have filed against him, and still found time to tear into the way he claims Nissan and Renault are now being mismanaged.
We can now expect his arguments to be scrutinised closely - and no doubt both Nissan and the Japanese government will respond. But he has certainly seized the agenda - and combined with his dramatic escape, has done so in style.
The Japanese justice minister is expected to make a brief statement in response to Carlos Ghosn's news conference.
Former Nissan and Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn explains why he escaped Japan while awaiting trial, after his arrest in November 2018.
More from the Carlos Ghosn news conference - and there's not much luck for those reporters anxious to find out how Mr Ghosn managed to flee Japan.
"I am not here to talk about how I left Japan... I am here to talk about why. I am here to shed light on a system that violates the most basic [human rights]," he said
"I am here to clear my name. These allegations are untrue and I should never have been arrested in the first place."
"They [family members] all endured unimaginable pain, they were barred to see me or even speak to me for months."
- Copyright: AFP
Carlos Ghosn is not been pulling any punches during his much anticipated news conference.
So far, he says: "I was brutally taken from my work as I knew it, ripped from my work, my family and my friends."
He adds: "It is impossible to express the depth of that deprivation and my profound appreciation to be able to be reunited with my family and loved ones."
"'It will get worse for you if you don't just confess,' the prosecutor told me repeatedly."
By Theo Leggett & Daniele Palumbo
Business correspondent & Data journalist, BBC News