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Nissan board fires chair Ghosn following arrest

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Nissan’s board voted unanimously to oust its chair, Carlos Ghosn, on Thursday after the shock arrest of the industry heavyweight, ushering in a period of uncertainty for its 19-year alliance with Renault.

The Japanese firm said its board also voted to remove Greg Kelly — who, like Ghosn, has been arrested after allegations of financial misconduct — from his post as representative director.

The move, which leaves the chairman position vacant, came despite Renault urging Nissan’s board before its meeting to delay removing Ghosn, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

The Franco-Japanese alliance, enlarged in 2016 to include Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors, has been rattled to its core by the arrest of the 64-year-old Ghosn in Japan on Monday.

Ghosn had shaped the alliance and was pushing for deeper ties, including potentially a full Renault-Nissan merger at the French government’s urging, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.

Japanese prosecutors said Ghosn and Kelly conspired to understate Ghosn’s compensation at Nissan over five years from 2010, saying it was about half the actual 10 billion yen ($117 million US).

Remaining at Renault

Shin Kukimoto, deputy public prosecutor at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, said on Thursday that court approval was received a day earlier to detain Ghosn for 10 days, but he could not comment on whether Ghosn had admitted to the allegations.

Nissan executives have five seats on the nine-member board, Renault loyalists have two seats, and the remaining two are held by unaffiliated outside directors — a former bureaucrat and a race driver.

With Ghosn and Kelly still in detention, neither of the men were able to vote or defend themselves at the meeting.

Nissan Motor Co. chief executive Hiroto Saikawa bows as he leaves a news conference Monday in Yokohama, Japan, during which he announced Ghosn’s arrest. (Kyodo News/Associated Press)

Renault has refrained from firing Ghosn as chairman and CEO.

But Mitsubishi Motors plans to remove Ghosn from his post of chair at a board meeting next week.

Amid growing uncertainty over the future of the alliance, Japan’s industry minister and France’s finance minister are due to meet in Paris on Thursday to seek ways to stabilize it.

“For me, the future of the alliance is the bigger deal,” a senior Nissan official told reporters on Wednesday, when asked about Ghosn’s arrest. “It’s obvious that in this age we need to do things together. To part would be impossible.”

Ghosn detained

Nissan said on Monday it conducted an internal investigation triggered by a tip-off from an informant, and found that Ghosn engaged in wrongdoing including personal use of company money and under-reporting of his earnings for years.

Ghosn and Kelly have not commented on the accusations and Reuters has not been able to reach them.

Prosecutors said Ghosn is being held at the Tokyo detention centre, which is known for its austere regime — a far cry from his usual luxury lifestyle — including restrictions on sleeping during the day and a requirement to wear a mask when meeting with visitors to prevent the spread of disease.

The detention house “is pretty cold at this of time year,” internet entrepreneur and convicted fraudster Takufumi Horie told his followers on Twitter.

Motonari Otsuru, a former public prosecutor who is known for overseeing the case against Horie, was hired as Ghosn’s lawyer, NHK reported. Otsuru’s law office declined to confirm that he represented Ghosn and said no one was available for comment.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said on Thursday, quoting unnamed sources, that Ghosn had given Kelly orders by email to make false statements on his remuneration. Tokyo prosecutors likely seized the related emails and may use them as evidence, the report said.

A security guard is seen in front of Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama on Thursday. Ghosn’s arrest and dismissal have spurred questions about the future of a 19-year alliance with Renault. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

The Yomiuri, Japan’s biggest-circulation daily, cited unnamed sources as saying Nissan’s internal investigation found that Ghosn had, since 2002, instructed that about $100,000 a year be paid to his elder sister as remuneration for a non-existent advisory role.

The paper said Nissan had found through the investigation that Ghosn’s sister had in fact been living in and managing a luxury apartment in Rio de Janeiro that the company had bought through an overseas subsidiary, but had done no advisory work for the carmaker. Nissan has shared the information with prosecutors, Yomiuri said.

Shares in Nissan closed up 0.8 per cent, in line with a broader market, ahead of the board meeting.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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10 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

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Buying a home for the first time is exciting and a commitment to the future. It’s often challenging, too, and the process requires a lot of steps, many of which can be tricky to navigate as a first-time home buyer.

What are some things you should keep in mind as a first-time home buyer?

First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey toward homeownership.

1. Have Your Finances in Order

It’s wise to begin saving as early as possible once you’ve made the decision to purchase a house. You’ll need to consider the down payment, closing costs (which often range from 2% to 5% of the down payment), as well as move-in expenses.

You also need to understand the other costs of homeownership, such as mortgage insurance. property taxes, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, and more.

2. How Much Can You Afford?

Knowing how much you can realistically afford in a home is another important financial consideration. Look for the home of your dreams that fits your budget.

One way to avoid future financial stress is to set a price range for your home that fits your budget, and then staying within that range. Going through the preapproval process will help you understand what price range is realistic for your budget.

3. Make Sure Your Credit is Good

Another thing to keep in mind as a first-time home buyer is your credit score because it determines whether you qualify for a mortgage and affects the interest rate that lenders offer. 

You can check your credit score from the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

This is another good reason for getting preapproved before you start your search. Learn more about the preapproval process and your credit score.

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

A good real estate agent guides you through the process every step of the way. He or she will help you find a home that fits your needs, help you through the financial processes, and help ease any first-time buyer anxiety you may have.

Interview several agents and request references.

5. Research Mortgage Options

A variety of mortgages are available, including conventional mortgages – which are guaranteed by the government – FHA loans, USDA loans, and VA loans (for veterans).

You’ll also have options regarding the mortgage term. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is popular among many homebuyers and has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the course of the loan. A 15-year loan usually has a lower interest rate but monthly payments are larger.

6. Talk to Multiple Lenders

It’s worth your time to talk to several lenders and banks before you accept a mortgage offer. The more you shop around, the better deal you’re liable to get – and it may save you thousands of dollars.

7. Get Preapproved First

Getting a mortgage preapproval (in the form of a letter) before you begin hunting for homes is something else to put on your checklist. A lender’s preapproval letter states exactly how much loan money you can get.

Learn more about the preapproval process and how preapproval provides you with a significant competitive advantage in our article How Preapproval Gives You Home Buying Power.

8. Pick the Right House and Neighborhood

Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of the different types of homes based on your budget, lifestyle, etc. Would a condominium or townhome fit your needs better than a house? What type of neighborhood appeals to you?

9. List Your Needs and Must-Haves

The home you purchase should have as many of the features you prefer as possible. List your needs in order of priority; some things may be non-negotiable to you personally.

10. Hire an Inspector

Hiring an inspector is another crucial step in the home buying process. An inspector will tell you about existing or potential problems with the home, and also what’s in good order. You can learn more about home inspections and how to find a home inspector through the American Society of Home Inspectors website.

Buying a home for the first time is a challenge, but it’s one you can handle with the right planning and preparation.

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