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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Who is Carlos Ghosn?

The Brazilian auto scion's fall from grace follows a busy history of turning around loss-making companies

In 1999 when Renault entered into an alliance with Nissan Motor, Ghosn was chosen as chief operating officer, becoming the first foreign to take the reins of a major Japanese company.  AFP
In 1999 when Renault entered into an alliance with Nissan Motor, Ghosn was chosen as chief operating officer, becoming the first foreign to take the reins of a major Japanese company.  AFP

Carlos Ghosn was born to a Lebanese family in Porto Velho, Brazil, in 1954, where he spent most of his childhood. His grandfather Bichara Ghosn had emigrated to the South American country at the age of 13 to escape poverty and religious conflict in Lebanon.

After graduating in engineering from Ecole Polytechnique in 1974 and Ecole des Mines de Paris in 1978, Carlos Ghosn started his career in the auto industry with France’s biggest tyre-maker Michelin, where he worked 18 years.

He rose up the ranks from a plant manager to become chief operating officer for Michelin’s South American operations, a post that took him back to Brazil in 1985. Five years later, Mr Ghosn became chairman and chief executive of Michelin North America, supervising the restructure of the company after it acquired Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company.

In 1996, Mr Ghosn was appointed executive vice president of France's Renault, where he was tasked with advanced research, car engineering and development, car manufacturing, powertrain operations, purchase and supervision of the marque's activities in Mercosur.

The deep restructuring drive led him to earn the nickname, "Le Cost Cutter", and helped the company return to profitability.

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Read more:

Nissan to dismiss Carlos Ghosn after he is arrested

Renault-Nissan chief executive will be arrested on financial trading violations - Japanese media

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In 1999, when Renault entered into an alliance with Nissan Motor, Mr Ghosn was chosen as chief operating officer, becoming the first foreigner to take the reins of a major Japanese company. He had the unenviable task of turning around the Japanese automaker, which was saddled with $20 billion (Dh73.46bn) in debt and annual losses of more than $6bn.

He applied major cost-cuts and axed 21,000 jobs under the Nissan Revival Plan announced in 1999, helping the company turn a profit in two years.

Mr Ghosn's success won him the role of chief executive in 2001, a post he held for six years. In 2005, he became the chief executive of Groupe Renault, making him the first person to run two Fortune 500 companies simultaneously.

He stepped down as chief executive of Nissan in 2017, but continued to serve as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi, and as CEO and chairman of Groupe Renault.

Mr Ghosn holds French and Brazilian citizenship, and speaks Arabic, French, English, Japanese and Portuguese.