In Oman, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, which is Bahwan International Group Holding’s flagship company, has been Nissan’s distributor since 2004. A year later, the partnership paved the way for the opening of what was then Nissan’s largest showroom in the world.
Muscat (June 4, 2005) -- In the presence of Nissan President & CEO Carlos Ghosn, and H.H. Asad Bin Tariq Al Said, personal representative of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman, the world's largest Nissan showroom was officially opened to an audience of nearly one thousand guests.
The Muscat premises are home to Nissan's sole distributor in Oman, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, and extend to 3,367 square meters. The display area can accommodate the full range of Nissan and Infiniti models and their variants, with space for over 25 vehicles. Repair and service workshops, administrative offices, and staff facilities are also included in the development.
Ghosn told guests at the opening ceremony that the spectacular new showroom was a model for the Nissan network in the Middle East.
Let’s change gears entirely and ask you about Mr. Ghosn and Nissan. What can you tell me about that?
I think I’m as shocked as anyone else by this whole developing circumstance. Carlos Ghosn, the one I know, is not a nice guy. He’s tough and very demanding, but I have never ever had any reason to assume any integrity issues. When all of the stuff came out, I was absolutely shocked and mortified and my kind of kneejerk reaction was it has all the smell of a palace coup.
They’re trying to create theater and inflict maximum damage to his reputation. Nothing I saw [at Infiniti] gave me any inkling of [the allegations]. I don’t have personally much to contribute to it more than I’ve said right now. While I wasn’t involved directly with discussions on distributors for Nissan and Infiniti in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia in particular—it was part of the job of the guy who ran the region for me, and I know in Saudi Arabia that various factions of the royal family control everything. If you aren’t in with one, you don’t get any business done. There was an issue where the entire corporation’s business was being held up by a member of the family who had the distribution rights and was clearly relying on them for a living.
I don’t know this for a fact, but it would not surprise me if [the alleged $14.7 million] facilitation money was paid to help broker a solution to [the Saudi distribution issue].
As one of the conditions of the bail granted earlier on Thursday, Ghosn has been separated from his wife.
The Brazilian-born tycoon is barred from contacting Carole Ghosn unless he notifies the court of the time and place he intends to speak to her. The condition was set because the latest allegation involves suspicions of an indirect transfer of Nissan funds to a company where she is president. Carole Ghosn was questioned as a witness in the investigation but not charged.
"I am grateful that bail has been granted," Ghosn said in a statement after his release. However, "restricting communications and contact between my wife and me is cruel and unnecessary," he added, maintaining that he is innocent and that he is committed to "vigorously defending [himself] against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations."
And the company recently has lost several other strong executives, including Jose Munoz, a Ghosn ally who had been Nissan's chief performance officer and has moved to Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co. Nissan's Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci, in charge of global marketing and zero-emission vehicles, left to become chief executive at Italian brake-maker Brembo.
Still, the automaker remains strong: its Note compact, an electric car equipped with a small gas engine to charge its battery, was Japan's No. 1 selling car for the fiscal year through March. It was the first time in 50 years that a Nissan model won the honors, beating powerful local rivals Toyota and Honda Motor Co.