Nissan top executive Munoz resigns amid broadened Ghosn probe

Jose Munoz, who was the automaker’s chief performance officer and head of its China operations, had been a ‘person of interest’ in Nissan’s widening internal investigation. (Reuters)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Nissan top executive Munoz resigns amid broadened Ghosn probe

  • In a statement, Nissan said that Munoz had ‘elected to resign’ from the company, effective immediately
  • The scandal has sent shockwaves through the automotive industry and has escalated tensions between Nissan and Renault

TOKYO: One of Nissan’s top executives has resigned, further rattling the Japanese automaker’s management team as it broadens an investigation into ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct.
Jose Munoz, widely considered as a close ally to Ghosn and a possible successor to lead the automaking partnership between Nissan and France’s Renault, had been a “person of interest” in Nissan’s widening internal investigation.
The 53-year-old, who was Nissan’s chief performance officer and head of its China operations, made the announcement in a LinkedIn post on Friday. In a statement, Nissan said that Munoz had “elected to resign” from the company, effective immediately. It declined to offer details.
He becomes the latest executive casualty since Nissan in November removed Ghosn as chairman and fired representative director Greg Kelly.
The resignation deals another blow to the Japanese automaker, which is grappling with the scandal at a time when it is struggling to shore up profitability in the US and expand aggressively in China.
Reuters had reported earlier on Friday that the Japanese automaker was looking into decisions made in the US by Munoz who led Nissan’s North American operations from 2016 to 2018.
“Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus,” Munoz said in his post.
“As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations.”
People with knowledge of the issue have said that Munoz, who had been placed on a leave of absence earlier in the month, had not been co-operating with the internal investigation.
Ghosn, once the most celebrated executives in the auto industry and the anchor of Nissan’s alliance with Renault, remains in custody in a Tokyo detention center since his initial arrest in late November.
Ghosn has been indicted on two counts of under-reporting his income, and aggravated breach of trust for temporarily shifting personal investment losses worth ¥1.85 billion ($17 million) to Nissan.
The scandal has sent shockwaves through the automotive industry and has escalated tensions between Nissan and Renault, where Ghosn remains CEO and chairman.
Munoz joined the automaker in 2004 in Europe and led its significant expansion in North America after the global financial crisis. Since then, Nissan has succeeded in raising its market share in the US and posted record sales.
Earlier this year, Nissan tapped Munoz to oversee its operations in China where it plans to ramp up sales over the next few years.
Since then, the world’s largest auto market has been showing signs of a slowdown, prompting the automaker to cut local production plans in the coming months.


Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

Updated 25 June 2019
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Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

  • ‘What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern’
  • Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day, given sizeable spare capacity

Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO
SEOUL: Saudi Aramco is concerned at recent actions in the Gulf but can meet its customers’ needs thanks to its experience and the availability of additional spare capacity, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
“What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern,” Amin Nasser, president and chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant, told Reuters in an interview.
“At the same time, we went through a number of crises in the past ... we’ve always met our customer commitments and we do have flexibility and the system availability in terms of available additional spare capacity.”
Recent tanker attacks in the Gulf have raised fears about safety of one of the world’s key shipping routes and pushed up oil prices.
Nasser, who is in Seoul ahead of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day (bpd), given sizeable spare capacity.
“If you look at our production, it is hovering around 10 million barrels per day so we do have additional spare capacity,” he said.
The oil giant is aiming to become a major global gas player, and has been developing its own gas resources as well as eyeing gas assets in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa.
Nasser said Aramco is in talks to buy a stake in Russian gas company Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project, while exploring other investment opportunities in gas.
He confirmed the company is also in discussions about buying a stake in India’s Reliance Industries and in talks with other Asian companies about investments.
“We will continue to explore opportunities in different markets and different companies, and these things take time,” he said.
Nasser said the company, South Korea’s top oil supplier, was looking to increase its crude oil supplies to the country where it has partnerships and investments with South Korean refiners.
Saudi Aramco supplies between 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 900,000 bpd to South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer.