The Debt That's Dragging Nissan Downhill

It's worse than it looked, and a Renault deal may not help

It was a startling confession. On Mar. 18, Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Yoshifumi Tsuji admitted that management's mishandling of its heavy debts drove Japan's No. 2 auto maker into desperate straits. Immediately, rumors started that he will resign to take responsibility. But his mea culpa is prompting far more worrisome questions: How much is Nissan's debt load, exactly? And if Nissan mishandled its debt, how many other marquee Japanese companies did the same?

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