Yokohama (Japan) (AFP)
The Japanese automaker Nissan, in full overhaul of its leadership since the ouster of Carlos Ghosn, has chosen Tuesday as new general manager Makoto Uchida, 53, current boss of the Chinese subsidiary of the group.
Nissan's board, which met Tuesday at the group's headquarters in Yokohama, near Tokyo, has also appointed director of operations (COO) Indian Ashwani Gupta, who currently holds the same position at partner Mitsubishi Motors. A senior Nissan manager, Jun Seki, will become Vice-COO.
"The board has concluded that Mr. Uchida is the right leader to lead the business forward," Yasushi Kimura, chairman of the board, told a news conference in Yokohama.
Masakazu Toyoda, who heads Nissan's nominating committee, said the three men are "citizens of the world".
"And they attach great importance to alliances and are motivated to make quick decisions," he added.
These nominations must be effective by 1 January at the latest.
- A "very good news" for the alliance -
Both Mr. Uchida, Mr. Gupta and Mr. Seki were candidates for the position of Director General, according to sources familiar with the matter interviewed in recent weeks by AFP.
In the end, the board of directors decided to associate them, rather than choosing only one.
"We think this structure is the best way to overcome the difficulties that society faces," said Toyoda on Tuesday.
This collegiate leadership is "a complete tool, a new, younger and international team" also welcomed a source close to the board questioned Tuesday by AFP.
"This is very good news for the new Nissan, and for the alliance" with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, insisted the same source.
An alliance-friendly Nissan boss, whose yards have been paralyzed since Carlos Ghosn was ousted at the end of 2018, was one of the priorities for Renault, which owns 43% of Nissan, as well as for the French state, which owns 15% of the tricolor manufacturer.
"What matters to us, as a shareholder of Renault, is that the future leader of Nissan is indeed pro-alliance, obviously," said last Friday Martin Vial, the president of the Agency's equity holdings. French State (APE).
- Graduate in theology -
Mr. Uchida is a vice-president of Nissan, where he has been working since 2003, after starting his career at a Japanese trading house. The Japanese press describes him as having played a key role in the group's growth strategy in recent years.
Graduate of theology - a rather atypical profile for a car executive - he has been involved for a long time in joint projects with Renault.
Between 2016 and 2018, he was responsible for purchasing within the alliance between the three manufacturers.
Aged 49, Mr. Gupta has also worked for Renault as well as for Nissan in the past. He is currently also responsible for the light commercial vehicle business within the alliance, in addition to his COO position at Mitsubishi Motors.
As for Jun Seki, 58, he spent his entire career with Nissan and since last May has been responsible for the group's "performance recovery".
Nissan was under pressure to quickly find a new captain after the hasty departure of its managing director Hiroto Saikawa, pushed to resignation last month after being overtaken by a premium scandal unduly levied in 2013, when Carlos Ghosn was still running the car manufacturer.
Nothing, however, filtered Tuesday night on another hot issue, which was also supposed to be on the menu of the board: the fact that several other executives of Nissan, still in place for some, would also have received excessive bonuses by the past, like Mr. Saikawa, Mr. Ghosn and his former right-hand man Greg Kelly.
Among them is Hari Nada, the influential head of legal affairs at Nissan, reputed to have played a key role in the fall of Mr Ghosn, arrested and charged in Japan at the end of 2018 for alleged financial malfeasance.
"The situation is no longer livable" because of this "incomplete transparency", had recently told AFP another source close to the file, wishing the departure of these elements "toxic" according to her, for both Nissan and the alliance.
© 2019 AFP