Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has $4.2 billion in cash burning a hole in his pocket this month.
But what to spend it on? Hmmm ...
The money came from the sale of some of Renault's stock holding in Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo -- not a strategic interest for Ghosn. So it's Renault's money, and some part of it will go to pay down Renault's debt. And so, therefore, these financial affairs are an ocean away and most North Americans reading along probably couldn't care less.
Unless he uses the cash to buy part of General Motors -- which he has kind of indicated he kind of wants to do. And let's not forget that GM is calculating a public stock offering.
Ghosn would like to have closer ties to GM. That's the way he actually phrased it publicly a few days before the $4 billion-plus came along.
Also, in Steven Rattner's new book, Overhaul, Ghosn is portrayed as expressing to the Obama administration that same desire for closer ties between Renault-Nissan and GM -- after turning down the job offer to become GM's CEO.
Nor should we forget that 11 years ago, Renault similarly freed up a pile of cash and used it to buy a controlling interest in Japan's Nissan Motor Co. And ever since, Ghosn has had the unusual habit of doing pretty much everything he says he intends to do. Sell off Nissan's inefficient parts operations. Find a partner in Russia. Move upscale in Europe. Enter the electric vehicle business …
So would it be a major seismic event if Ghosn spends his cash to acquire a role in GM's future for Renault and Nissan? Definitely. But considering he has openly declared his desire for closer ties to GM, should it come as a surprise if he does?
Not if you're listening to the man.