Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi shift alliance strategy

Appointment of general secretary aims to strengthen business efficiencies

On Monday this week, Hadi Zablit officially became general secretary of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance – a position created with a view to accelerating business efficiencies among the three companies.

His appointment comes as the brands – which last year together sold more vehicles than any other motor company – battle to improve profitability in the face of sharply declining sales.

“The general secretary will coordinate and facilitate all of the major projects planned by the alliance, accelerating business efficiencies for the respective companies,” says a statement, adding that operating board members had agreed at the end of November on a series of action initiatives they want implemented, details of which are scheduled to be released in the New Year.

Zablit, a senior vice-president in the alliance’s Business Development Unit, has been responsible for the introduction of an A-segment vehicle platform shared by the three companies. He has also been involved in establishing co-operative partnerships with other original equipment manufacturers as well as technology companies.

Additionally, he has focused on alliance mobility services – including a joint-venture initiative dedicated to autonomous vehicles – and synchronisation of product planning

His appointment to the general secretary position comes little more than a year after the arrest of former alliance leader Carlos Ghosn, who has been charged by Japanese prosecutors with financial mismanagement, including under reporting his compensation. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing.

Motor industry observers believe that Zablit’s appointment signals a significant shift in strategy towards consensus-based decision-making, since he will report to the chief executives of the member companies as well as to Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Renault, who will remain chairman of the alliance’s operating board.

The partnership between Renault and Nissan has been under strain since Ghosn’s arrest, with tensions flaring in May this year after the French brand failed to inform its Japanese counterpart of merger talks in which it was engaged with Fiat Chrysler. The proposed merger eventually fell through, and Fiat Chrysler recently announced plans to join forces with the PSA Group, a French rival to Renault.

Born in 1970 with dual Lebanese and French citizenship, Zablit holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from France’s Ecole Polytechnique, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Ecole des Mines de Paris and a master’s in business administration from INSEAD.

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