Nissan to discuss CEO Saikawa's resignation, successor

Saikawa told reporters he wanted to 'pass the baton' on to the next generation of leaders as soon as possible.

    Hiroto Saikawa privately expressed his intention to resign from his post as CEO of the embattled Japanese carmaker Nissan, according to a source quoted by Reuters [Kyodo/Reuters]
    Hiroto Saikawa privately expressed his intention to resign from his post as CEO of the embattled Japanese carmaker Nissan, according to a source quoted by Reuters [Kyodo/Reuters]

    Nissan Motor Co's nominating committee will discuss potential successors for Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa at a meeting on Monday, after he privately signalled his readiness to resign, a source with knowledge of the matter told the Reuters news agency.

    The resignation of Saikawa, a protege of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, would mark the latest upheaval over governance at the troubled Japanese automaker. The company has struggled to right itself following Ghosn's dramatic arrest and subsequent removal last year.

    It was again swept up in crisis when Saikawa last week admitted to being overpaid and in violation of internal procedures. That admission followed an internal investigation.

    Nissan's board is scheduled to meet on Monday. The company, and its relationship with top shareholder Renault SA, has been damaged following Ghosn's arrest for alleged financial misconduct in November 2018 and subsequent departure.

    "The nominating committee will also meet today and discuss the selection of successor and the timing of the resignation," the source told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the information has not been made public.

    "Saikawa isn't at all clinging to his president's chair."

    The timing of Saikawa's resignation was not immediately clear. He has told some executives of his intention to resign, the source said.

    The chief executive earlier told reporters that he wanted to "pass the baton" to the next generation as soon as possible, Nikkei newspaper reported.

    Nissan was not immediately available to comment.

    Pressure has mounted on Saikawa given the company's poor performance and strained ties with Renault. Profit has tumbled to an 11-year low and prompted hefty job cuts.

    An alliance source told Reuters that a nominations committee established in June to find Saikawa's successor 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, said the alliance source, who also spoke 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, a third person with knowledge of the issue has previously told Reuters.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency