TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has told some executives he plans to resign, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday, in what would mark the latest upheaval over governance at the troubled Japanese automaker.
FILE PHOTO: Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa attends a news conference to release first quarter earnings at the company headquarters in Yokohama, Japan July 25, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
Nissan, which has struggled to right itself after former chairman Carlos Ghosn was ousted late last year, was battered by another crisis just days ago when Saikawa admitted to being overpaid in violation of internal procedures. The admission followed the results of an internal investigation.
Nissan’s board members are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the issue. The company, and its relationship with top shareholder Renault SA (RENA.PA), has been damaged following Ghosn’s arrest in November and subsequent departure.
Citing unnamed sources, the Nikkei said Saikawa’s decision had been prompted by increasing doubts over his ability to steer the automaker to recovery, given the recent plunge in Nissan’s profit and the salary payments.
Nissan was not immediately available to comment on the report.
Pressure has mounted on Saikawa, a Ghosn protege, given the company’s poor performance and strained ties with Renault. Profit has tumbled to an 11-year low and prompted hefty job cuts.
One alliance source told Reuters that a nominations committee established in June to find a successor to Saikawa had drawn up a shortlist containing more than 10 possible candidates.
Names included Jun Seki, who is overseeing the company’s performance recovery, Chief Competitive Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi, and Makoto Uchida, chairman of Nissan’s management committee in China, one of its largest markets, the person said on condition of anonymity.
The search and vetting process would likely take about six months as the committee considered both Japanese and non-Japanese candidates for the role, another person with knowledge of the issue has told Reuters.
The Financial Times has reported that Nissan’s board will set a formal succession timetable at Monday’s meeting, citing unnamed sources.
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Naomi Tajitsu; additional reporting by Laurence Frost in Paris; Editing by David Dolan, Andrew Cawthorne and Ros Russell