Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigns, successor to be named

Nissan CEO Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa
Emmett Howard | 10 September, 2019, 12:44

The reports said it was not immediately clear when Hiroto Saikawa would step down, as the firm struggles with the aftermath of the arrest of its former chief Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct.

The company has struggled to right itself following Ghosn's dramatic arrest and subsequent ouster a year ago.

Ltd. held their regular Board of Directors meeting, where after discussion, the Board asked him to resign as representative executive officer and CEO of the company, effective September 16, and he accepted. Until a successor is decided, Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi will serve as interim chief, the board said.

Saikawa is suspected of improperly adding 47 million yen (USD 440,000) to his compensation by altering the terms of a bonus.

Saikawa did not appear at the news conference initially, but the four board members who led the event said he would later.

Saikawa also said he would return the improper compensation, which although not illegal, was deemed to be in violation of internal company rules.

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. Other executives were also said to have received excess pay.

His resignation marks a dramatic early exit for a man who had been tasked with righting the Japanese automaker following the arrest and ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn late a year ago.

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The carmaker is now undergoing an overhaul meant to strengthen governance after the Ghosn scandal.

Ghosn, who had led Nissan for two decades before his arrest, is accused of underreporting his salary by tens of millions of dollars and transferring personal investment losses to Nissan.

Saikawa, a one-time Ghosn protege, turned sharply against his former mentor after his arrest, referring to the "dark side" of the tycoon's tenure and accusing him of accruing unchecked power that allowed his alleged wrongdoing to go undetected.

Nissan's board is scheduled to meet on Monday.

But the CEO has come under pressure himself in the scandal's wake, facing calls to resign from shareholders who view him as too heavily associated with the Ghosn era. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is part of the selection committee as well, and took over from Ghosn following his scandals at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

In the months since, Nissan has announced plans to slash 9% of its workforce amid falling profits.

"There are working theories" on a possible reform of the cross-holding structure between the two firms, a source close to the issue told AFP, adding that "nothing is official".

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