Nissan's new boss promises revival and reaffirms alliance
TOKYO, JAPAN - Nissan’s new chief executive Makoto Uchida has reaffirmed the importance of the Japanese carmaker’s alliance with Renault as it strives to puts its financial scandals behind it.
A day after he took office, Uchida told reporters on Monday that he will emphasise transparency and work to restore Nissan’s credibility.
Uchida takes over at a time of crisis, with sales and profits tumbling, after Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested last year on various financial misconduct charges.
Ghosn denies wrongdoing. His trial has not started, and the scandal hangs like a shadow over Nissan.
Analysts say hopes are high Uchida and his new team will lead a revival at Nissan. But uncertainties remain, and the effort is likely to take time.
Uchida was appointed in October after his predecessor, Hiroto Saikawa, resigned.
By selecting Uchida, Nissan's board has gone with someone slightly at odds with its traditional corporate culture. He joined the carmaker mid-career in 2003, a rarity in a country where top executives usually spend their entire working lives at the same company.
Known for his unflagging work ethic and relentless focus on cost control, Uchida was described by one long-time associate who spoke on condition of anonymity as a "foreigner with a Japanese face" - direct and to the point in conversations.
He is joined by newly appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta, currently COO of junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp, in trying to find new ways to revive a business that has been struggling for months with plunging profits, management scandal and tensions with Renault.
"The biggest business challenge for Nissan is speeding up," the head of Nissan's nominations committee, Masakazu Toyoda, told a news conference.
"Speedy decision making is a challenge that Uchida raised, and to this end he said that he wants to empower people as much as possible, so we decided to ask Uchida to take on the CEO role."
One source close to Renault described the selection as "a victory for the alliance", saying that both Uchida and Gupta knew the business and were ready to help Nissan recover.
AP & Reuters