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Report: Nissan president Hiroto Saikawa to step down amid pay scandal

Another management-related setback hits Japanese automaker

Nissan president Hiroto Saikawa during happier times. PHOTO FROM NISSAN

Japanese automaker Nissan can’t seem to catch a break these days. Still dealing with the company-shaking Carlos Ghosn scandal that saw its once-powerful boss getting arrested and detained in Japan, the firm is now bracing for another management shake-up as news surfaces about current president and CEO Hiroto Saikawa offering to step down following a report that he himself received “inappropriate compensation.”

Last week, the Nikkei Asian Review revealed that Saikawa had “admitted to receiving inappropriate compensation but denied he was responsible, pushing back against an internal probe that suggested he may have added ¥47 million ($443,000) to his pay by tweaking the terms of a performance-based bonus.”

Yesterday, the same publication reported that the executive had come to the decision to “step down” as a result of the revelation. According to the publication, Nissan has not named a successor or set an official date for Saikawa’s departure.

Saikawa was always considered as Ghosn’s protégé, but he also played a big role in pinning down his mentor that led to the latter’s ouster. Word has it that Saikawa has never really enjoyed significant support from both shareholders and subordinates ever since replacing Ghosn.

UPDATE: Nissan released a statement following the publication of this story. “Today (September 9), the Board of Nissan Motor Co. held its regular Board of Directors meeting,” the company said through its media website. “Hiroto Saikawa had indicated recently his willingness to resign. After discussion, the Board asked him to resign as representative executive officer and CEO of the company, effective September 16, and he accepted. Effective the same day, Nissan’s representative executive officer and COO, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, will become acting CEO. Nissan’s Nomination Committee will accelerate its efforts to select a successor for the CEO position, with the goal of concluding the search by the end of October.”

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.