CHIBA – Nissan Motor Co.’s top executive Carlos Ghosn pledged Wednesday to rebuild trust in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and return the loss-making carmaker to profitability, as he was approved by shareholders as the new chairman of the scandal-tainted automaker.
“I pledge to protect shareholder interests and the long-term sustainability of Mitsubishi Motors,” Ghosn said at an extraordinary meeting in Chiba of shareholders of the automaker struggling to emerge from a fuel-economy data manipulation scandal.
“I know you will have questions about whether this enlarged alliance will work,” he said. “From past experience, I am confident that it will.”
Nissan became the biggest Mitsubishi Motors shareholder in October by taking a 34 percent stake as part of a strategic alliance aimed at helping the company recover from a scandal that sparked a plunge in sales and production.
Ghosn, also the CEO of Nissan’s French partner Renault SA, replaces Osamu Masuko, who remains as president at Ghosn’s request.
Of the 11 board members newly approved at the meeting, Ghosn is one of four from Nissan, along with Mitsuhiko Yamashita, executive vice president in charge of development.
There are no members of the new management team who started their careers at Mitsubishi Motors, as the company seeks to alter its corporate culture.
Mitsubishi Motors admitted in April that it overstated the fuel efficiency of four minicar models, including two supplied to Nissan. It later revealed that it had been using noncompliant methods to calculate fuel economy data since 1991, affecting more vehicle models.
Shareholders also approved a proposal to triple the maximum annual payment to board members to ¥3 billion ($26 million), by introducing a salary system where compensation is paid based on performance and also linked to the company’s share price.
Previously, the total amount paid to board members was capped at ¥960 million.
Ghosn was paid ¥1.07 billion ($9.3 million) at Nissan for the past business year, one of the highest amounts paid to an executive of a Japanese company.
During the meeting, shareholders asked whether it was appropriate for board members to receive huge packages during a time when the carmaker expects a net loss for the current year through March 31.
“We need to attract external talent globally with a new salary system,” Masuko said.
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