Shares of Nissan (NSANY) (NSANF) are down more than 7.5% and hitting a new 52-week low of $8.37, while Renault (RNLSY) is down almost 9% and hitting a new 52-week low of $65.85 in Monday's trading session.
Along with Nissan and Renault, Mitsubishi (MMTOF) (MSBHY) is the third component in the global alliance trio consisting of the three automakers. For its part, Mitsubishi is down about 3% to $6.23 in the session, but holding above its 52-week low of $6.10.
Causing all of this turmoil is the investigation of Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi global alliance, chairman and CEO of Renault and chairman of Nissan. He was arrested following the investigation for charges related to violating Japanese financial law.
Ghosn allegedly under-reported his income for years, while also spending company funds on personal use. The Nissan board is seeking his dismissal for Ghosn's "serious misconduct." Not all of the finding are known just yet from the investigation.
What does this all mean for Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault?
Nissan is Japan's second-largest automaker behind Toyota Motor (TM) , and is the sixth-largest in the world, trailing General Motors (GM) , Volkswagen (VLKAY) , Ford Motor (F) and Hyundai. With the Nissan-Renault alliance, the group is one of the top sellers in terms of global auto sales.
The ownership situation between the three automakers is an interesting one. Renault owns a 43.4% stake in Nissan, the latter of which owns a 15% non-voting stake in Renault. Nissan also owns a 34% stake in Mitsubishi. Adding even more complexity to the issue, the French government owns a 15% stake in Renault.
As a result, there's been plenty of rumors regarding mergers between the companies. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has said the company will now try to stabilize the situation following the investigation, a multi-month effort following a tip from a whistleblower.
It appears the companies are doing their best to ensure that the case around Ghosn doesn't hurt their alliance. But Monday's realization is just another punch to the gut for shareholders. Nissan has already seen a big drop in sales this year, while news regarding untrained technicians performing vehicle inspections in Japan came out in October and reports of emissions cheating and fuel-economy fudging surfaced in July.
The news also comes at a time where there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding global automakers.
Worries over tariffs in the U.S. threaten to drive up costs and hurt profits for domestic and foreign automakers. Further, worries over a domestic and global recession loom, particularly at a time where automakers have seen stagnant sales for several years now.
So while there is plenty of excitement in the transportation industry regarding autonomous driving, ride-sharing and new innovations, there are also storm clouds above it as well.
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