Business

Nissan eyes high dividends in fiscal 2007

Nissan Motor Co. said Wednesday it will more than double its dividend payment for the fiscal year ending in March 2008.

President Carlos Ghosn made the bold promise to investors during the automaker’s general shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo.

The company, 46 percent owned by French carmaker Renault SA, said it plans to pay an annual dividend of at least 40 yen per share for fiscal 2007, the final year of the company’s new three-year business plan.

The promised dividend is more than double the annual dividend of 19 yen for the year that ended in March.

At the three-hour meeting, attended by 1,242 shareholders, investors asked Ghosn about Nissan’s current share price, which many said does not reflect the automaker’s strong performance.

Ghosn said the market “is not always fair, it is not always rational,” adding that the price will eventually rise if the company “delivers performance systematically.”

Nissan shares closed Wednesday at 1,135 yen, up 1.3 percent, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Investors also raised two questions frequently heard at shareholder meetings this year. They wanted to know why the company has not adopted a U.S.-style board structure, and why it continues to pay retirement bonuses to departing board members.

Ghosn said that the company simply follows local regulations and customs, but he did not rule out changes in the future.

He also said he will watch carefully the U.S.-style corporate governance adopted by Sony Corp. Ghosn serves on the Sony board as an outside member.

One investor asked about a February car accident in which Ghosn was driving a Porsche — not a Nissan.

Ghosn said it is imperative for the head of an automaker to know rivals’ cars by testing them himself.

“I drove more than 100 cars of competitors since 1999 on the public road alone. And I will continue to drive them,” he said.

Coronavirus banner