Breakfast conversation with Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance
Consulate general of France in New York
Thursday April 5th, 2012
Monsieur le Président, Cher Carlos Ghosn,
Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, Cher Félix,
Monsieur le Consul général, Cher Philippe - thank you for hosting us this morning,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all for this breakfast conversation with Carlos Ghosn, whom I’d like to warmly thank on behalf of all of us. It is a true privilege to have you with us – and for us – this morning.
The “Executive Club” was created six years ago to foster high level French-American business relationships, and the Club has been since then a great success story. I was the Consul General in New York at that time and I remember that with Jean-Hugues Monier in particular we worked hard to organize the “Première” of the “Executive Club” with Ambassador Rohatyn and Henry Kravis. Et mon Cher Félix, this Club is to a large extend your brainchild.
Our meeting this morning could not come at a better time as French-American relations, and this is good news, have never been closer than they are today.
It’s true on the diplomatic and security front, as illustrated by the joint commitment of our two countries in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Africa, and the fact that we have taken the lead together to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.
It’s also true on the economic front : the economic partnership between our two countries is growing stronger every year, in terms of cross-investments in particular.
The U.S. is the number 1 foreign investor in France, and American investment in my country increased by 40% over the last two years.
Conversely, France is in the top 5 foreign investors in this country, with 4,000 French companies supporting more than 650,000 American jobs.
And Renault-Nissan is obviously a key player in this respect too.
Cher amis, we are very fortunate to have Carlos Ghosn with us today.
You were a global citizen before the term was even coined : you were born in Brazil, “in the midst of the Amazon” as you like to put it; you were raised in Lebanon, the country of your parents; and you received your education in the best of French academic institutions, the “Ecole Polytechnique” and “Les Mines”.
You are perfectly fluent in Japanese, Portuguese, Arab, English and French.
You have devoted your entire career to automobiles. You started at Michelin where you spent 18 years, including a significant time in the U.S. where several of your children were born.
You joined Nissan as COO In 1999 and became CEO in 2001. You then became President & CEO of Renault in 2005, thus becoming the first individual to run two companies on the “Fortune Global 500” simultaneously – two companies that together produce more than one out of every 10 cars sold around the globe today.
You are a true visionary, you are the quintessence of a global leader who succeeded when so many have failed, transforming Nissan, then Renault, then Renault-Nissan, into the powerhouse and the extraordinary success it is today.
One needs only to look at the situation of the auto industry to see how far ahead of the curve you have always been : with your investment in innovation technologies to launch electric cars; with the huge success of the Dacia brand, the “ultra low cost” vehicles; with the recent and great news about the taxis in New York. And I could go on and on. You also demonstrated the exceptional talent and leadership to leverage what is best in each culture and bring out their strengths to achieve a common objective for success.
As we all know, you are also a real rock star in Japan : you are for example the main character in a manga which goes by the title of “The True Story of Carlos Ghosn”, and several restaurants in Tokyo offer menus bearing your name!
With no further delay I give you the floor, to you and to Jean-Hugues Monier, a partner with McKinsey, whom I wish to thank for his help in organizing this breakfast, and who will be our moderator today.
We shall begin with a half-hour conversation between the two of you, followed by another 30 minutes for questions and answers. Everything said is on the record.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Please join me in welcoming Carlos Ghosn./.