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Renault board ready to replace Ghosn as chairman, CEO: sources

Paris

RENAULT SA is preparing to replace jailed chairman and chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn after his failed bid for bail in Japan signalled that he may remain in detention for months, people familiar with the matter said.

Some Renault board members have concluded that a decision is needed fast, after reports that Ghosn received payment from a structure named Nissan-Mitsubishi, one of the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter isn't public. Regardless of the outcome of legal cases, Ghosn can't possibly stay at the helm of the French carmaker, the people said.

Renault directors will probably meet in the coming days, they said, while French financial daily Les Echos reported that a board meeting may take place by Sunday. Interim CEO Thierry Bollore's mandate could be made more permanent, while Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard is the leading candidate to become chairman, one of the people said.

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Nissan Motor Co has already ousted Ghosn as chairman, and CEO Hiroto Saikawa has told French media that Renault would reach the same conclusion if it had access to all relevant information.

While the Japanese CEO brushed off speculation that the probe was a ruse to overthrow Ghosn or push France out of the alliance - a theory he called "absurd" - replacing Ghosn could pave the way for Renault and Nissan to negotiate a future that's less dependent on one leader.

"Both companies need the alliance," said Janet Lewis, a Tokyo-based auto analyst with Macquarie Group Ltd. "Negotiating the future of the alliance needs to be done by people with the authority to do so, not acting representatives," she said. BLOOMBERG