Automotive News Executive Editor Edward Lapham writes five commentaries each week for autonews.com. You can read them at autonews.com /edwardlapham.
Try being CEO of three.
Maybe it's because the pace of change and reorganization in the auto industry is accelerating. Or maybe it's just because there was a full moon last week.
Whatever caused it, there is a new theory making the rounds that Carlos Ghosn ought to be CEO of Ford Motor Co. in addition to Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co.
Ford CEO Bill Ford has offered the CEO job to a couple of likely candidates who have turned him down, so why not get Ghosn? Ford Motor needs restructuring. At Nissan, Ghosn showed he can lead a restructuring and change a corporate culture.
Proponents see it as a variation of the old three-legged stool theory that says an alliance with a strong player in Asia, America and Europe can dominate the automotive world.
Think of the benefits. Renault would get the large cars it needs. A global purchasing arm would mean deep discounts and dramatically lower costs for all three automakers.
According to the theory, there would need to be an equity swap to create a three-way alliance. That could be tricky because of the Ford family's Class B shares, but some bright Wall Street lawyer will sort it out.
Super CEO Ghosn would need some heavy-duty stock options, maybe even some upfront equity, plus guarantees of autonomy and control. Don't forget that he worked for a family business at Michelin and knows the pitfalls.
When the Great Ghosn succeeds (as surely he must!), stock prices soar and everybody gets rich. Or richer.
One snag: Ford Motor's various brands compete against Renault in Europe and against Nissan in America and Asia.
So Ghosn likely would snip models and brands as part of a global restructuring. That could reduce excess capacity and overhead but might sacrifice volume, at least initially.
Far-fetched? It must have been the full moon.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]