Nissan picks Makoto Uchida as new CEO

Bloomberg October 8 | Updated on October 08, 2019

Nissan Motor Co named the head of its China joint venture as chief executive officer, as the struggling Japanese carmaker seeks to heal deep divisions caused by the arrest of its former chairman and repair fraught relations with partner Renault SA.

Makoto Uchida, 53, will work alongside Ashwani Gupta from affiliate Mitsubishi Motors Corp., who was named chief operating officer, and Jun Seki, the former head of Nissan in China, who will become deputy COO, according to a statement Tuesday.

The board believes that this arrangement, of a CEO and two COOs, is the best way forward for Nissan right now, director Masakazu Toyoda said at a press conference. They can lift each others game, support one another, be transparent and make fair decisions.

Uchida, who will be Nissan’s third boss in as many years, will need to address deteriorating profits as well as executing a massive restructuring.

In addition, the company’s relationship with partner Renault in a global alliance with Mitsubishi was rocked by the arrest nearly one year ago of their former leader, Carlos Ghosn, for financial crimes, which he has denied. Relations were further tested when Nissan scuttled Renaults plan to merge with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Nissan’s new top management could face pressure from the French company, which owns 43 per cent of its Japanese partner, to decide whether talks should be rekindled, possibly for a three-way combination.

Uchida ran Nissan’s joint venture in China. Like many major automakers, Nissan counts the country as its single-biggest market, contributing almost a third of its operating income in recent years. He joined Nissan from Nissho Iwai Corp. in 2003, and has curried the favour of Renault because of his collaboration with the French automaker on joint procurement, sources said.

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Published on October 08, 2019
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