Embattled Nissan CEO Aims to Fast-track His Exit

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
embattled nissan ceo aims to fast track his exit

Ask Japanese media about Hiroto Saikawa’s status at Nissan and they’ll tell you he already has one and a half feet out the door. Following a report Sunday in Japan’s Nikkei, in which Saikawa allegedly told company executives of his plan to resign, the boss man himself admitted it’s true.

Speaking to the media, Saikawa, who was forced into contrition last week over revelations of excess compensation from an equity-linked remuneration scheme, said he wants to head out ASAP. His replacement will already be aware of the great challenges ahead.

“I want to pass the baton to the next generation as soon as possible,” Saikawa told Tokyo reporters early Monday. While the CEO wouldn’t say when exactly they could expect an official replacement, he did say that the automaker’s board would make “thorough preparations” for the changeover.

Last week Saikawa apologized and vowed to repay any excess funds gained through bonuses tied to stock performance, bonuses some allege Saikawa tweaked to boost his take. While the exec again denied this Monday – “I never ordered the company to break the rules” — it seems Saikawa has accumulated too much baggage to stay on in the top job.

A source told Reuters that Nissan’s nominating company will meet Monday to discuss a possible replacement. Saikawa, the source said, is hardly “clinging to his chair.”

The company already finds itself in a state of turmoil following the November arrest of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, on charges of underreporting income and funneling company cash to businesses he controlled. Earlier this year, Saikawa found himself in the hot seat after it was revealed he approved a controversial lump sum payment that was to be part of Ghosn’s proposed retirement package. If that’s not enough dark clouds for a potential successor, Nissan finds itself a junior partner in a broader alliance whose French leadership still holds out hopes of merging with Fiat Chrysler.

Nissan’s sales are also down, with its Infiniti premium brand contracting sharply and recently dropping out of the European market. Nissan’s revenue and profits have taken a nosedive in a year Saikawa himself described as “rock bottom.” Meanwhile, auto sales have cooled off throughout the western world and economists and forecasters are bracing for a recession.

Whoever replaces Saikawa has their work cut out for them.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Johnnyz Johnnyz on Sep 09, 2019

    If Saikawa received compensation from a "renumeration scheme" why the hell isn't he in Jap jail like Ghosen? Maybe there is favoritism for a Japanese citizen? Double standards everywhere.

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Sep 09, 2019

      I thought for the whole “honor” thing in Japanese culture, this guy’ll be duty-bound to impale himself on a sword, anyway.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 09, 2019

    "Nissan’s sales are also down, with its Infiniti premium brand contracting sharply and recently dropping out of the European market." It is comical that they even dared to offer Infiniti on European market. No European in his right mind would consider such an ugly brand with no heritage. So dropping from European market means nothing. GM also dropped from European market. The problem would be if they drop Infiniti from US market. But first to go should be Mitsubishi.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.