Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) and Renault SA (RENA.PA), said he would not resign as the Japanese carmaker's chief before it was once again comfortably making profits.
Ghosn, sent from Renault in 1999 to lead Nissan initially as chief
operating officer, had previously said he expected to stay for 10 years
If you leave now, you wouldn't be leaving -- you would be
deserting, he said in an interview, after announcing his first annual
operating loss on Tuesday.
He said he had no intention to leave of his own volition until Nissan achieved a clear return to profitability.
That was likely to come in the financial year to March 2011, Ghosn
said, assuming global auto demand stayed at around 54 million vehicles,
the dollar averaged 95 yen and Nissan's cost-cutting proceeds as
The global financial crisis has plunged most automakers into losses
and last month tipped Chrysler into bankruptcy -- a fate that looks
increasingly likely for General Motors Corp (GM.N), which has just a few weeks to present a viable restructuring plan to avoid following its Detroit rival's path.
Some automakers are looking to pick the carcase of a battered U.S.
auto industry, and Renault has been among those reported as a serious
suitor for GM's Saturn unit.
But Ghosn said both Nissan and Renault were focused on getting their
own businesses back on their feet, and any prospect of expanding the
alliance was on hold.
There are plenty of opportunities, no doubt. The question is, can you take them, he said.
We are focusing on our own business for the moment, on our own
cash, on our own profitability, leaving the opportunities on the side.
When we're back to profit, feeling the pickup and (feel) that the
financial turmoil is behind us, then we may think again, but not for
The Franco-Japanese alliance had explored a three-way linkup with GM
in 2006 at the urging of a top GM shareholder and, while that plan fell
through, Ghosn has continued to say a third partner in North America
would make sense.
The argument for scale has been advocated more recently by his Fiat SpA (FIA.MI) counterpart, Sergio Marchionne, who is looking to super-size the Italian carmaker by combining with Chrysler and GM's Opel.
Ghosn said Nissan-Renault, for its part, had enough scale to compete
without another partner, but drove home the difficulty of achieving the
benefits of such an alliance.
I don't consider that scale is a problem for Renault and Nissan, he said, noting that with partners such as Russia's Avtovaz (AVAZ.MM), the group had annual sales exceeding 6 million units.
The main problem (at that scale) is efficiency, and really using the scale.