Business / Corporate

Nissan to keep Hiroto Saikawa as CEO and name Renault chief Thierry Bollore to board, say sources

Kyodo

Nissan Motor Co. plans to keep Hiroto Saikawa as its CEO and newly appoint Thierry Bollore, CEO of its alliance partner Renault SA, to its board, pending shareholder approval in June, sources said Thursday.

In a management revamp following the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn for alleged financial misconduct last November, Nissan plans an 11-member board with six of them outside directors, in line with proposals made in March by its committee set up to enhance corporate governance.

Among the members, Renault, the Japanese automaker’s top shareholder, will be represented by Bollore and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who joined Nissan’s board in April, the sources said. From Nissan, three officials, including Saikawa and Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi, will join the board.

Sadayuki Sakakibara, a co-chairman of the governance committee and former chief of Keidanren, the powerful business lobby also known as the Japan Business Federation, had been floated as a candidate to serve as chairman of the board but the idea has now been shelved, the sources said.

Nissan, which decided on the candidates at its extraordinary board meeting on Wednesday, is set to launch the new board after securing approval from shareholders at its regular annual meeting in June.

Nissan said on Tuesday its group net profit hit a nine-year low in the year through March and forecast it would nearly halve in fiscal 2019, just as differences with Renault over how to shape the future of their alliance following the ouster of Ghosn adds to its woes.

Nissan has been struggling in the U.S. market in recent years, with Saikawa acknowledging that the automaker was overstretching to meet targets, such as by relying on incentives.

Since the arrest of Ghosn in mid-November, Nissan has faced the task of stabilizing its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in the absence of the once-feted auto tycoon, who built and led an auto group that was the world’s second largest last year in terms of vehicle sales.

However, Saikawa indicated talks on a merger between Nissan and Renault could become a source of tension.

Saikawa disclosed that Senard is in favor of business integration with Nissan.

But Saikawa said it is not necessary and “risks damaging Nissan’s power to create value.”