News & Opinion | August 30, 2020 5:48 pm

How a Corporate Coup Ended Carlos Ghosn’s Time at Nissan

More corporate intrigue than a season of "Succession"

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn earlier this year.
Mahmut Geldi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The story of Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn, who escaped from Japan last year after facing criminal charges, is a complex one. Given that Ghosn signed with a high-profile agent earlier this year, we probably haven’t heard the last of his story — especially since Ghosn maintains his innocence and has argued that he was the victim of internal politics at Nissan.

A new report at Bloomberg explores some of the inner workings at Nissan that led to Ghosn’s ouster — and offers an in-depth look at senior vice president Hari Nada’s role in them. The article, by Reed Stevenson, provides a sense of things got so contentious at Nissan, and how that led to Ghosn’s abrupt departure from Japan.

Nada began working at Nissan in 1990, and gradually rose in the company until he had a prominent role including, among other things, security. “Sometime in early 2018,” Stevenson writes, “Nada hired the French company Wavestone to break into the computer systems of Nissan and its alliance partners, people with knowledge of the project said.”

This was done for security reasons — but it may have given Nada access to Ghosn’s email. Nada and Ghosn were on opposite sides of a debate within the company over its future. At the time, Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi were all chaired by Ghosn, who was intrigued by the idea of adding Fiat Chrysler to create an automotive juggernaut.

Things get more complex from there, including rival investigations and more unlikely alliances. The result is a gripping read — further evidence that corporate intrigue can be as gripping as any fictionalized thriller out there.

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