Nissan Motor Co. said Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta will step down from his position effective June 27, when his term on the board ends at the Japanese carmaker’s annual meeting of shareholders. 

The announcement on Friday comes after the company said last month that Gupta, who took charge as COO in December 2019, won’t be reappointed to its board. Nissan fell short of giving details on Gupta’s departure, saying he will leave to pursue other opportunities.

Calling Gupta’s departure a result of internal clash, the Financial Times reported this week that he agreed to step down after Motoo Nagai, an outside director who heads Nissan’s audit committee, presented him with multiple internal complaints, one of which was almost a year old.

Two Nissan executives claimed Gupta was “framed”, but other people familiar with the situation said the committee promptly acted on the complaints when they were formally submitted through an internal hotline, according to the FT.

“Independent third-parties have been retained to verify facts and carry on appropriate actions. Hence, we cannot make any further comments on this issue,” a Nissan spokesperson told Bloomberg via email when asked about the report.

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Nissan embarked on a plan in 2020 to cut about ¥300 billion ($2.1 billion) in costs, boost profits on each vehicle sold in the US and release new models to pull out of a slump after the 2018 arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Gupta and Chief Executive Officer Makoto Uchida steered the carmaker back to operating profitability for the 2021-2022 fiscal year and earlier this year revamped the company’s two-decade alliance with Renault SA, its biggest shareholder. 

Renault saved Nissan with a cash injection in 1999 and sent in Ghosn to turn the company around, but there was always tension in the relationship, sowing the seeds of Ghosn’s ouster and the current clash at the top. Although Nissan is the bigger carmaker, Renault held sway over the Japanese company with a 43 per cent stake, compared with Nissan’s 15 per cent in the French company with no voting rights. 

Gupta’s exit was due in part to his role during negotiations to re-balance the partnership with the French carmaker, by pushing back against efforts by Renault to license hundreds of jointly developed patented technologies to other players and get a commitment from Nissan to invest in its EV subsidiary, according to the FT.

Talks concluded earlier this year to reshape the alliance, with Renault agreeing to reduce its ownership of Nissan over time to 15 per cent. In return, Nissan may be willing to invest $500 million to $750 million for a stake of about 15 per cent in the new electric-vehicle unit that Renault plans to carve out. 

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In an interview with Bloomberg Television in April, Gupta assured investors that negotiations have been constructive despite a delay in sealing the final agreement. 

Gupta had worked at Renault and was COO of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which Ghosn had added to the alliance in 2016, before joining Nissan. Ghosn escaped Japan in December 2019, where he was facing charges of under-reporting his compensation. The former executive has denied the charges and is currently in Lebanon.

The new executive lineup is scheduled to be announced on June 27, the Yokohama-based company said in the statement.