Ghosn’s arrest casts doubt on future of Renault-Nissan alliance

Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan Monday for allegedly abusing company funds and misreporting his income. (AP)
Updated 20 November 2018
0

Ghosn’s arrest casts doubt on future of Renault-Nissan alliance

  • Carlos Ghosn been ‘the glue that holds Renault and Nissan together,’ Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a note to investors
  • With Ghosn out at Nissan and probably Renault as well, the companies are unlikely to get any closer

DETROIT: For years, France’s Renault and Japan’s Nissan struggled to make money in the global auto business.
Then came Carlos Ghosn, a Renault executive who helped to orchestrate an unprecedented transcontinental alliance, combining parts of both companies to share engineering and technology costs.
Now Ghosn’s arrest in Japan for alleged financial improprieties at Nissan could put the nearly 20-year-old alliance in jeopardy.
Ghosn, 64, born in Brazil, schooled in France and of Lebanese heritage, is set to be ousted later this week from his spot as Nissan chairman. He also could also lose his roles as CEO and chairman of Renault, threatening the alliance formed in 1999 that’s now selling more than 10 million automobiles a year.
He’s been “the glue that holds Renault and Nissan together,” Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a note to investors. “It is hard not to conclude that there may be a gulf opening up between Renault and Nissan.”
Nissan has said it will dismiss the Ghosn after he was arrested in Japan Monday for allegedly abusing company funds and misreporting his income. That opens up a leadership void at the entire alliance, for which Ghosn officially still serves as CEO and chairman.
Ghosn added Mitsubishi to the alliance two years ago after the tiny automaker was caught in a gas-mileage cheating scandal. He had even floated the idea of a full merger between the three companies.
“Today’s events throw any prospect of that up in the air,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London, wrote in a note to investors.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has publicly resisted the idea of an outright merger. So, with Ghosn out at Nissan and probably Renault as well, the companies are unlikely to get any closer.
The companies now share technology, and they save money by jointly purchasing components.
While there could be some scrutiny of the relationships between the companies, they’re so intertwined now that cutting them apart would be difficult, said Kelley Blue Book analyst Michelle Krebs. “I would not predict its demise,” Krebs said of the alliance.
She said she sees further consolidation in an industry that faces unprecedented research costs for autonomous and electric vehicles, while at the same time continuing to develop cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines.
“The last thing one of the world’s biggest automakers needs is the disruption caused by an investigation into the behavior of a man who has towered over the global auto sector,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London.
Nissan’s board is to meet Thursday to consider Ghosn’s fate. Renault, where Ghosn is also CEO, said its board will hold an emergency meeting soon, and experts say it is unlikely that he will be able to stay at the company or the broader alliance.
The brash Ghosn was once viewed as a savior in the auto business with the ability to turn around the two struggling companies. In 2006 he even proposed an alliance with global giant General Motors.
Bernstein’s Warburton wrote that Ghosn’s once-mighty reputation has been declining for years, while Krebs said Nissan never could meet Ghosn’s goal of 10 percent US market share even though it has relied on “bad behavior” such as heavy discounts and sales to rental car companies.
Saikawa reiterated Nissan’s commitment to the venture, while a Renault statement expressed “dedication to the defense of Renault’s interest in the alliance.”


Dubai real estate market recovery to be seen as of 2022: S&P

Updated 20 February 2019
0

Dubai real estate market recovery to be seen as of 2022: S&P

  • The outlook on property was part of a challenging assessment of the credit-worthiness of the emirate
  • S&P was generally comfortable with the credit ratings of the emirate’s banking system

DUBAI: S&P Global, the ratings agency, painted a grim picture for the real estate sector in Dubai, with a meaningful recovery in property prices expected only after 2022.
At a presentation to journalists in the Dubai International Financial Center, S&P analyst Sapna Jagtiani said that under the firm’s “base case scenario,” the Dubai real estate market would fall by between 5 and 10 percent this year, roughly the same as the fall in 2018, which would bring property prices to the levels seen at the bottom of the last cycle in 2010, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
“On the real estate side we continue to have a very grim view of the market. While we expect prices to broadly stabilize in 2020, we don’t see a meaningful recovery in 2021. Relative to the previous recovery cycle, we believe it will take longer time for prices to display a meaningful recovery,” she said.
S&P’s verdict adds to several recent pessimistic assessments of the Dubai real estate market. Jagtiani said that conditions in the other big UAE property market, in Abu Dhabi, were not as negative, because “Abu Dhabi never did ramp up as much in 2014 and 2015 as Dubai.” S&P does not rate developers in the capital.
She added that a “stress scenario” could arise if government and royal family related developers — such as Emaar Properties, Meraas, Dubai Properties and Nakheel — which have attractive land banks and economies of scale, continue to launch new developments.
“In such a scenario, we think residential real estate prices could decline by 10-15 percent in 2019 and a further 5-10 percent in 2020. In this case, we expect no upside for Dubai residential real estate prices in 2021, as we expect it will take a while for the market to absorb oversupply,” she said.
S&P recently downgraded Damac, one of the biggest Dubai-based developers, to BB- rating, on weak market prospects.
However, Jagtiani said that, despite the “significant oversupply” from existing projects, several factors should held stabilize the market: Few, if any, major product launches; improved affordability and “bargain hunting” by bulk buyers; and a resurgence of Asian, especially Chinese, investor interest in the market.
Jagtiani also said that government measures such as new ownership and visa regulations and reduction in government fees could help prevent prices falling more sharply, as well as “increased economic activity related to Dubai Expo 2020, which is expected to attract about 25 million visitors to the emirate.”
The outlook on property was part of a challenging assessment of the credit-worthiness of the emirate. “In our view, credit conditions deteriorated in Dubai in 2018, reducing the government’s ability to provide extraordinary financial support to its government related entities (GREs) if needed,” S&P said in a report. “The negative outlook on Dubai Electricity and Water
Authority (DEWA) partly reflects our concern that a real estate downturn beyond our base case could out increased pressure on government finances,” the report said.
It pointed out that about 70 percent of government revenues come from non-tax sources, including land transfer and mortgage registration fees, as well as charges for housing and municipality liabilities, as well as dividends from real estate developers it controls, like Emaar and Nakheel.
S&P was generally comfortable with the credit ratings of the emirate’s banking system, which has an estimated 20 percent exposure to real estate. “Banks in the UAE tend to generally display a good level of profitability and capitalization, giving them a good margin to absorb a moderate increase in risks,” the report said.