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Nissan Takes 34 Percent Stake in Scandal-Hit Mitsubishi Motors

Nissan Takes Control Of Mitsubishi 0:49

Nissan Motor Co. is taking a 34 percent stake in scandal-ridden Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in what Nissan Chief Carlos Ghosn said was "a win-win" deal that aims to repeat the success of his Nissan-Renault alliance.

Ghosn appeared with Mitsubishi Motors Chairman Osamu Masuko in a hastily called joint conference Thursday in Yokohama, where Nissan is headquartered. Ghosn said Nissan will invest 237 billion yen ($2.2 billion) to become the top investor in Mitsubishi Motors.

Mitsubishi group companies — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, trading company Mitsubishi Corp. and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ — will continue to hold stakes in the automaker, but they have agreed to support the alliance with Nissan, both sides said.

Image: Mitsubishi and Nissan logos
The logos of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. KIMIMASA MAYAMA / EPA

Mitsubishi Motors has been recently rocked by a scandal over cheating on mileage tests to inflate mileage for minicar models. And reporters peppered Ghosn with questions on whether he was worried that the scandal may grow.

"This is a breakthrough transaction and a win-win for both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. It creates a dynamic new force in the automotive industry that will cooperate intensively and generate sizeable synergies," said Ghosn, who engineered Nissan's alliance with Renault, which began in 1999.

Adding Mitsubishi will be a plus in sharing platforms, purchasing and technology, and Nissan will benefit from its strengths in southeast Asia, Ghosn said. He said he has a close relationship with Masuko and they have a good relationship built on trust.

The automakers will maintain separate identities, brands and dealerships, Ghosn and Masuko said.

In the early 2000s, Mitsubishi disclosed a shocking scandal involving cover-ups of defects such as failing brakes, faulty clutches and fuel tanks prone to falling off, dating back to the 1970s. That resulted in more than a million vehicles being recalled retroactively.

Image: Carlos Ghosn and Osamu Masuko
Nissan Motor Co.'s Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn (left) shakes hands with Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko on Thursday. FRANCK ROBICHON / EPA

In the unfolding mileage scandal, Mitsubishi has said the rigging dates back 25 years, and may involve all its models, including discontinued ones.

Ghosn has saved Nissan from near-bankruptcy, imposing cost cuts that have been more efficient, if not brutal, than old-style Japanese management, which relies on cautious, harmonious decision-making by committee and vaguely defined responsibilities.