Nissan boss bows to pressure, announces resignation

Yolanda Curtis
September 10, 2019

His resignation marks a dramatic early exit for a man who had been tasked with righting the automaker following the arrest and ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn late past year on charges of financial misconduct, which Ghosn denies.

A new CEO will be named by the end of October, the automaker said in a late-night news conference in Yokohama, near Tokyo, on Monday. Articles appear on for a limited time.

Mr Saikawa has said he did not know about the improprieties, promised to return the money and blamed the system he said Ghosn had created at Nissan for the dubious payments. Other executives also received excess pay.

As a result of the corruption scandal, Nissan's relationship with Renault soured and Nissan net profit plunged almost 95% in the April-June period, leading the automaker to announce a cut in 12,500 jobs worldwide.

The Japanese firm has also struggled to steady its relationship with Renault as part of a tripartite alliance with Mitsubishi Motors that Ghosn founded and once led. Amid the fallout from losing a leader who loomed large over the company for a generation, Nissan has also been grappling with decade-low profits and job cuts as vehicle sales slow globally. "It turned a blind eye to Saikawa and only went after Ghosn".

Ghosn has been charged with falsifying documents on deferred compensation, which means he did not receive any of the money.

Saikawa's tenure as the CEO of one of Japan's automaking icons was marked by a series of missteps.

Just months after he took charge in April, 2017, Saikawa was criticised for not having bowed enough when apologising for having used un-certified workers to sign off on inspections of newly built cars.

The deterioration of Nissan's business in the U.S. - a source of tension between Ghosn and Saikawa before the chairman's downfall - has continued into this year. The 65-year-old has repeatedly said Ghosn's emphasis on increasing market share at all costs undermined profitability. Six company outsiders reportedly make up the selection committee to replace Saikawa and top contenders include Yamauchi himself, Jun Seki, responsible for overseeing the automaker's performance recovery, and Makato Uchida, chairman of Nissan's management committee in China. During that period the alliance came under pressure from the French state, which had increased its stake in Renault without informing Ghosn.

Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has vowed to pass the leadership of the Japanese carmaker to a new generation.

The carmaker is now undergoing an overhaul meant to strengthen governance after the Ghosn scandal. He continued to lead negotiations on re-balancing the capital ties with Renault before his resignation.

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