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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Nissan CEO Saikawa says 'too much' authority held by Ghosn

Board of partner Mitsubishi Motors also dismisses chairman

TOKYO -- Nissan Motor Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa on Monday told employees that there had been "too much concentration of authority" under ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn while he served simultaneously as the head of Renault.

Saikawa made the remarks at a briefing for nonmanagerial employees during the morning, according to sources who were present. During the session, which was streamed live from Nissan's Yokohama headquarters to offices around the world, the CEO explained why the automaker had dismissed Ghosn as chairman and representative director.

Executives and general managers were briefed last week, after Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19 on suspicion of violating Japan's Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

Saikawa said he would "talk directly [with Renault] in the future." Renault holds 43.4% of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of Renault, a position that gives it no voting rights.

His comments hint at a desire to rebalance the alliance, which also includes Mitsubishi Motors. He also said that the alliance "would continue."

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi held an extraordinary board meeting on Monday afternoon and sacked Ghosn as chairman and representative director. Ghosn took the chairman's post in December 2016 after Nissan's acquisition of a controlling stake in the company. CEO Osamu Masuko has been named as interim chairman.

Mitsubishi said that the dismissal came because it had become difficult for Ghosn to fulfill his duties as chairman.

Mitsubishi's board of directors includes Ghosn, Masuko and six outside directors. The seven board members besides Ghosn are to convene.

This piece has been revised after Nissan claimed a quote from Saikawa, stating that the alliance with Renault was "not equal," did not come up during the briefing.

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