Read: December 2022
Inspiration: What is the story of business mogul-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn?
Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.
“Boundless: The Rise, Fall, and Escape of Carlos Ghosn”, published in 2022 by authors and journalists Nick Kostov and Sean McLain, tells the story of the former CEO of Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn. The book covers Ghosn’s career, including his rise to the top of the automotive industry and his reputation as a successful and innovative leader. It also discusses the charges of financial misconduct that were brought against Ghosn in 2018, and his subsequent escape from Japan to Lebanon in 2019. Boundless is a compelling and fascinating tale of corporate greed and international law, and offers a revealing look at the life and career of one of the most high-profile business leaders of the 21st century.
Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.
Carlos Ghosn is legendary auto exec who orchestrated alliance for Renault-Nissan, revered at Nissan as leader, born in Brazil as grandson of rubber industry businessman (self-made pride), disease riddled and mother insist back to Lebanon where grandfather and she was from, well off in Beirut but father eventually arrested for murder and admitted to diamond smuggling from Africa, Carlos to Paris for elite prep school then college 1975, good at math and history, recruited to join Michelin in france—youngest plant manager in company history, CEO francois michelin instructed underling exec to take Carlos under his wing, impress all quickly, then to struggling Brazil unit and Carlos turn it profitable, Francois come to review and tell Carlos want him to run new US company they are acquiring Uniroyal Goodrich for 1.5bn (1/5 of global tire market now), to south carolina where very diff corporate culture, leave michelin for Renault no 2 spot 1996 (french car maker), may 1998 diamler and chrysler announce merger so Renault consider options and focus on Nissan or Mitsubishi (like asian market), Schweitzer was Renault CEO leading talks, Nissan say also talked to diamler-chrysler and ford, Renault propose partnership not merger—renault buy 5bn stake in Nissan and respect their ways (wary after Volvo merger fail), Ghosn do impressive cost cutting work at Renault and Nissan struggling with Japan recession at debt levels so deal conditioned on Ghosn to Japan to run Nissan, 37% stake partnership (20bn nissan debt not on renault BS) march 1999 announced and many think doomed to fail, by end of 1999 ghosn lay out cost cut and restructure plan for Nissan (had 1400 stakes in other biz, common in Japan, sell as part, Ghosn say will resign if not profitable in 2000, if debt not in half by ’02 and if not hit margin target, posted 2.7bn profit ’00 largest ever, Ghosn become beloved in Japan/celebrity for turnaround and new optimism, april 2005 Schweitzer retire and Ghosn become CEO of Renault and Nissan (supposed to be short term arrangement b/c 2 behemoths), global politicans like Ghosn but not French b/c see him as too Nissan-focused, Ghosn want to bring GM in US to alliance but face French pushback (largest renault shareholder), by 2006 no 2 at renault Pelata feel Ghosn losing touch at both places and people not giving Ghosn honest performance sense so ’08 Ghosn listen and appoint Pelata to run Renault, Ghosn run into personal financial issues during GFC as yen based comp strengthen vs dollar and was in shortfall personally with currency swap bank agreement—try to get Nissan to cover but then turn to Suhail Bahwan in Oman who sold Nissan in region and Juffali in Saudi—annually Ghosn start sending money to Juffali and Bahwan—plug personal hole but intertwine with Nissan as debt on their books from loans as out of new CEO reserve fund ghosn control, 2010 japan change comp disclosure law so soon Ghosn pay public at 9.6mm (really 17mm but quickly fixed) and public enraged, workaround to get full 17mm then threatened by French new laws so later 2010 set up Nissan venture fund which Ghosn want to be paid from, 2012 euro crisis hurt renault and merger talks pop up—renault and nissan not get along really as both want to lead and cultures clash, ghosn buy rio and beirut home thru Nissan, 2015 work with friend and lebanese lawyer Gebran to set up shells to move money for real estate in lebanon (lax rules, secret), money to shells from Oman friend Bahwan (then money just sit there as real estate deals “fall through”), Ghosn loan to Oman dealership who really just rerout via shells to Ghosn pockets (50mm+), french gvt concerned about renault not being prioritized over nissan, new french law 2015 would double voting rights and Macron secretely activate public funds to up stake to overrule ghosn vote against, then Macron/gvt deal with Nissan to aussage Japanese concerns re Nissan french control as subsidiary of renault (ghosn role in question whether even needed), into 17/18 ghosn want to slow down but also take chairman role at Mitsubishi, name Saikawa as successor CEO at Nissan but really theatrics, 18/19 french push ghosn to pursue merger to keep role and ghosn agree as payment flow backdoor—Nissan nervous would be terrible for them if merger, 17 behind scenes start looking into Zi-A venture fund that bought ghosn rio and beirut properties, Imazu was within Nissan to check books, flag to Nada who was in with Ghosn circle but agree to help—hire Latham but also concerned for own implications in crimes, Nada was successor to Kelly to run CEO office so trusted, Nada involved in schemes but make deal with prosecutors to avoid charges, Nov 19 2018 ghosn and kelly arrive in tokyo for meeting and detained (kelly lured there by Nada), raise Nissan office same day and Ghosn homes in rio and beirut, french/renault shocked and think perhaps plot with nissan related to merger, ghosn held for 50 days through holidays and denied bail, jan 2019 davos french say ghosn resign at renault (owed 30mm unclear if pay), Macron call Jean-Dominique Senard to run renault (ceo of Michelin), by April Senard propose equal merger to Saikawa but leaked (Senard had denied to press), Nissan struggling, Senard secretely negotiate deal with Fiat Chrysler and surprise Nissan who oppose then fall through, Hari Nada main opposition leader at Nissan, Kelly come out to press to take down Saikawa as complicit, Senard use to then get him to resign as also thwart proposals, Senaed them get Nada not fired but boxed out, then Bollere as renault CEO ousted by Senard, ghosn got new lawyer and finally bail after 108 days, Oman Route=payments to Bahwan/SBA that got kickbacked to Ghosn, Ghosn rearrested then bail then orchestrate plan with Mike Taylor former Green Beret to escape in box on private jet to Istanbul then Beirut, Taylor and team to Japan as musicians and smuggle at hotel Ghosn into box, got to Beirut, Ghosn soon hold press conference for 2.5 hrs to defend self, Japan want interpol but lebanon love Ghosn, Taylor and son back to US early 2020 but arrest in May, March ’21 Taylor and son extradited to Japan for 2 year sentence, life in Beirut challenged with covid and civil unrest, French prosecutors to beirut to question Ghosn june ’21, apr ’22 france issue international arrest warrant for Ghosn as well as Bahwan and Kumar from Oman route, red notice for Carole Ghosn wife, Ghosn still in Lebanon—likely forever to not face trial but can’t leave, denies any wrongdoing, anger at Japanese judicial system