Nissan to appoint Saikawa as Chairman following Ghosn’s sacking

Posted By on November 27, 2018

27 November 2018 – Nissan Motor Co. plans to appoint CEO Hiroto Saikawa to double as its chairman at a board meeting next month following the dismissal of Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct, sources with knowledge of the situation said today.

The board plans to meet on Dec. 17, the sources said, where three independent directors will nominate a candidate for chairman from among the six other directors.

Ghosn, who was arrested by Tokyo prosecutors about a week ago for allegedly underreporting his compensation, and Greg Kelly, an executive who was accused of orchestrating the misconduct and was also arrested, remain on the board.

Both men are currently in detention but have yet to be charged. They have denied the allegations, according to investigative sources.

Saikawa had been slated to be named Nissan’s chairman on an interim basis at an emergency board meeting on Thursday but the plan was put on hold over concerns that it would anger alliance partner Renault SA, of which Ghosn is still chairman and CEO.

The leadership vacuum increasingly appears to be turning into a power struggle.

French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has said he believes it is preferable for the tripartite alliance to continue to be led by a person from Renault.

Ghosn, sent to Nissan from Renault as chief operating officer in 1999, turned the Japanese automaker’s fortunes, dragging it from the brink of bankruptcy through drastic cost-cutting measures.

Renault, which owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, is expected to push for one of its own executives, rather than Saikawa, to succeed Ghosn. Nissan holds a 15 percent stake in the French automaker and a 34 percent stake in fellow alliance member Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Japanese industry minister Hiroshige Seko told a press conference on Tuesday that the government will not provide commentary on the makeup of Nissan’s new management team, given that it is not a shareholder of the company.

On Monday, the board of Mitsubishi Motors also voted unanimously to dismiss Ghosn as its chairman.

Ghosn was arrested on suspicion of violating Japan’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by stating in Nissan’s financial reports to Japanese regulators that he had been paid around a total of 5 billion yen ($44 million) in remuneration during the five years ended March 2015, when he actually received nearly 10 billion yen.

The Brazilian-born executive, who also holds Lebanese and French citizenship, is also suspected of having used company funds to purchase and renovate lavish homes spread across four countries, and to have shifted 1.7 billion yen in personal investment losses to Nissan, according to the sources.