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Nissan takes $83m charge related to Carlos Ghosn

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said the company's alliance with Renault should continue

Nissan has taken a 9.2bn yen ($83m; £64.5m) charge tied to compensation for former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The charge was reported in the firm's first results since Mr Ghosn's arrest for financial misconduct, and Nissan said it reflected additional expenses related to payments to its former boss.

The carmaker also cut its full-year profit forecast as sales weakened.

It comes as the Nissan-Renault alliance is being tested by the scandal surrounding Mr Ghosn.

The 64-year-old has been in prison since November after Nissan accused him of understating his pay.

Nissan said it now expected full-year operating profit to be 450bn yen, down from a previous estimate of 540bn yen.

The cut to its full-year outlook came despite a rise in operating profit to 103.3bn yen for the three months to December, up from 82.4bn yen a year earlier.

However, the Japanese carmaker revised its full-year forecasts "given the performance in the first nine months of the year".

Over that period, it said global sales fell 2.1% "with growth in Japan, China and other markets offset by decreases in North America and Europe".

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Analysis: Theo Leggett, business correspondent

Mild mannered, bespectacled and grey-suited, Nissan's chief executive Hiroto Saikawa looks every inch the corporate functionary. But he's now widely seen as a ruthless corporate assassin, who seized on the allegations of wrongdoing against Carlos Ghosn to oust his former boss.

At the time, Nissan's Japanese executives were becoming increasingly wary about Mr Ghosn's plans to forge an ever closer union between the Alliance members of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi – with Renault firmly in the driving seat.

Today, he set out his own vision of the future. The Alliance should continue, yes – but he said its members should "respect the autonomy and independence of each other". It was time to restore trust, he said. And he questioned once again whether it was right to concentrate power on one single person.

It was a pointed warning ahead of his planned meeting this week with the new chairman of Renault, Jean Dominique Senard. Despite Renault's 43% shareholding, Nissan is no longer prepared to play a subservient role to its French partner; and any attempt to engineer a merger will be fiercely resisted.

The results are the first to be published since the arrest of its former chairman.

Mr Ghosn, the architect of the Renault-Nissan alliance, has been charged with financial misconduct and breach of trust.

He was sacked by Nissan after his arrest last year and resigned from Renault.

Renault and Nissan have pledged to continue their alliance. The new boss of Renault Jean-Dominique Senard will meet Nissan's boss Hiroto Saikawa in Japan this week.

The BBC's Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes said all indications are that the Mr Senard and Mr Saikawa have very different views of what direction their post-Ghosn alliance should take.

neallesh@yahoo.co.uk

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