OFFER MIGHT BE OFF THE TABLE: Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn said the automaker would relinquish its takeover deal with Mitsubishi if the firm was not honest about the scope of its fule consumption scandal. Image: AFP / Toru Yamanaka
Yokohama -Nissan's top executive warned Friday that he would kill a $2.2-billion offer to buy a major stake in Mitsubishi Motors if its fuel-economy cheating scandal spreads beyond Japan.
The country's number two automaker threw a surprise lifeline to Mitsubishi on Thursday by offering to buy 34% of its shares, in a deal that would give Nissan effective control over the smaller firm.
The deal will be dead if Mitsubishi was not being honest about claims the cheating was limited to cars sold only in its home market, Nissan's chief Carlos Ghosn said.
'We won't do the deal'
Japanese authorities are to release a report on an investigation into the matter this month, which is expected to lay bare more details about the cheating.
Ghosn told a roundtable of international media: "We have today a memorandum of understanding. The deal will come after (we do) due diligence. There is no problem in the US, in Europe - soon we are all going to know about that. So when we will have to conclude the deal we will know exactly what is the situation.
"I don't think there is any doubt that if there is any implosion...we won't do the deal."
Mitsubishi last month admitted it had been falsifying fuel-economy tests for years, manipulating data to make cars seem more efficient than they were in reality.
'This is a a serious issue'
The scandal - reported to cover almost every model sold in Japan since 1991 - also includes mini-cars produced by Mitsubishi for Nissan as part of a joint venture.
It was Nissan that first uncovered problems with the fuel economy data, but Mitsubishi has said Nissan had no part in the cheating.
Ghosn said Friday that Nissan would try to help Mitsubishi restore its tattered reputation.
Ghosn said: "This is a serious issue. There is a breach of trust and this is the responsibility of (Mitsubishi). We are going to support them."
Mitsubishi was pulled from the brink of bankruptcy a decade ago after it was discovered that it covered up vehicle defects that caused fatal accidents.
At the time, the Mitsubishi group of companies stepped in with a series of bailouts to save the firm.