Once a global powerhouse, Nissan is in trouble. Its sales are tumbling in an already slippery auto market, and its uncertain financial future has "mass layoffs" written all over the walls of its U.S. production facilities. Investors (and also dealers) aren't happy with the outlook either, but instead of focusing on how to improve the company, some would rather hold accountable the person they believe is responsible for the chaos: Carlos Ghosn.
Nissan's newest CEO, Makoto Uchida, took the company reins on Dec.1 of last year, promising change.
"If the circumstances remain uncertain you can fire me immediately,” Automotive News reports that Uchida told investors. “You can count on Nissan to change for the better.”
Needless to say, things have yet to turn around. Investors and dealers are beginning to fear that the company is turning into a "bargain-basement brand," and things have begun to get a bit hostile during Nissan's shareholder meetings. On Tuesday, Nissan held one such meeting just south of Tokyo, the first since ex-CEO Ghosn was arrested, charged for financial misconduct, and then fled the country.
During the meeting, talks turned from improving the company to stymieing the circus previous leadership created. One investor suggested that Nissan and its shareholders come together to bring Ghosn home to face the strong arm of Japan's justice system, a structure that boasts a 99% conviction rate across the board.
The unknown shareholder proposed this be done by pooling $13.8 million (1.5 billion yen) together to effectively snatch Ghosn from Lebanon. It's important to note that this is Ghosn's home country, where he grew up and retains certain notoriety among locals. It's also a country that has no extradition treaty with Japan, making it difficult for authorities to forcibly remove Ghosn.
"If that is spent in Lebanon, then we can bring Mr. Carlos Ghosn back to Japan," said the investor. "Even if you were victorious in the civil suit, that doesn't mean anything."
After the suggestion was mentioned there was a long silence from Uchida, something which the shareholders interpreted as a positive response and sparked a round of applause.
This might seem bizarre, but remember that nothing tied to Ghosn has been remotely orthodox: the ex-CEO's tight-knit business tactics, the four shell companies that Ghosn and his assistant Greg Kelly were linked to, the houses all over the world that Ghosn allegedly staffed with his own family, even the fact that he fled the country in a music equipment box.
Nothing is normal with Ghosn and predicting what will happen next is a fool's errand.
Got a tip? Send us a note: [email protected]