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Renault-Nissan CEO confirms he turned down top job at GM

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Renault-Nissan CEO confirms he turned down top job at GM

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Carlos Ghosn, the head of the Renault-Nissan alliance, confirmed today that he had been asked to become chief executive of General Motors Co. last year by the Obama administration.

Former auto czar Steven Rattner writes in a new memoir that he asked Ghosn to run GM last summer and that Ghosn declined his offer.

In an interview with CNN today, Ghosn confirmed he had turned down the top job at the Detroit automaker and also confirmed that he had asked Rattner to support a move to include GM in the Renault-Nissan alliance.

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"He proposed for me to take the job as CEO of General Motors and I declined," Ghosn told CNN. "I declined for a very simple reason ... We still are in one of the worst downturns that the auto industry has faced in its history and I felt that I can't quit. I am responsible for Nissan and Renault."

Ghosn said in the middle of a "storm -- you are in charge. You have to deliver, you have to get the company out of the storm. So it was not the time to leave."

Ghosn also said that he still believed that a tie-up with GM and the Renault-Nissan alliance would make sense "to share in the synergies."

Separately, Ghosn denied new speculation that he might leave to run Indian automaker Tata Motors, saying it was "not true."

Rattner writes in "Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry" that will be published on Sept. 20 that he had two dinners with Ghosn -- one at his New York apartment and one in a private room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington.

At the Washington dinner -- also attended by Ron Bloom (the administration's top auto adviser) -- Rattner said he offered the top job at GM to Ghosn after Rick Wagoner was ousted in March 2009.

Ghosn had courted GM for a tie-up with the Renault-Nissan alliance in 2006.

He was still interested in the U.S. automaker: "I would like GM to be part of our alliance," Ghosn said.

Rattner wrote he politely rejected the idea, because there was too much overlap between GM and the Renault-Nissan alliance. But he asked Ghosn: "Would you be interested in becoming CEO of GM?"

Ghosn declined.

"I knew it was a long shot and was not surprised when he deftly demurred," Rattner wrote.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100909/AUTO01/9090473/1148/Renault-Nissan-CEO-confirms-he-turned-down-top-job-at-GM#ixzz0z3noCy8n

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Ghosn had ‘no hesitation' in declining GM CEO offer

Automotive News Europe -- September 10, 2010 06:01 CET

(Bloomberg) -- Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan CEO, said he had “no hesitation” in declining an offer last year from the U.S. government to lead General Motors Co.

“Renault and Nissan were in the middle of the worst crisis in the auto industry,” Ghosn, 56, said in a statement.

“To leave at that point would have been both disruptive and disloyal to both companies.” He said that “it was a gracious offer, but I had no hesitation to decline.”

Ghosn confirmed the offer that came in 2009 from Steven Rattner, who then was head of President Obama's task force managing the reorganization of GM and Chrysler Group.

Ghosn also said that he still sees potential benefits for his companies from an alliance with GM or another large automaker.

Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman, declined to comment, and also said the company wouldn't discuss a forthcoming book by Rattner to be published on his experience leading the U.S. Treasury Department's auto task force.

Alliances such as the one formed in 1999 between Renault and Nissan are preferable to mergers, Ghosn said. He discussed such an option with GM in 2006 that former GM CEO Rick Wagoner rebuffed.

“The potential was clear and compelling for the alliance and, I still believe, for GM,” Ghosn said in the statement.

“When Steve Rattner and I met last year amid the turmoil at GM, I felt it was a natural time to raise the subject again.”

Potential synergies Nissan-Renault indentified from such an arrangement were “colossal,” Ghosn said today in an interview with CNN. Rattner “would not see this happening,” Ghosn said.

“I don't think anything like this can work unless there is a mutual appetite,” Ghosn said.

Ghosn also told CNN that reports he'd been approached to lead India's Tata Motors Ltd. were untrue.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100910/COPY/309109996/1317#ixzz0z8YrfGlk

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