Nissan names Makoto Uchida as new chief executive

Uchida, who leads group’s China operations, will replace Hiroto Saikawa

A showroom at the headquarters of Nissan in Yokohama. Photograph: Noriko Hayashi/The New York Times

A showroom at the headquarters of Nissan in Yokohama. Photograph: Noriko Hayashi/The New York Times

 

Nissan has named Makoto Uchida, the head of its China operations, as the company’s new chief executive, according to people with knowledge of the decision, in an effort to end a boardroom civil war that was unleashed by the 2018 arrest of Carlos Ghosn.

The unanimous decision by the board to promote the 53-year-old executive follows a three-month search for a successor to Hiroto Saikawa, the hand-picked appointee of Mr Ghosn, who was himself ousted in mid-September.

Mr Saikawa’s sudden dismissal laid bare the extent of a “toxic” internal battle for control of Nissan that had effectively paralysed the company’s ability to concentrate on its core business, its recovery plan and on repairing relations with its alliance partner, Renault, people close to the board said.

“Today it’s a disaster. Everything is out of control. Nobody seems to be in command and that cannot last long,” one of those people said. “Now it’s enough.”

Mr Uchida, who has spent more than a decade at a Japanese trading house before joining Nissan in 2003, was chosen from a shortlist of six candidates that also included Jun Seki, the former China head in charge of the recovery plan, and Ashwani Gupta, an India-born former Renault executive. Mr Gupta has also been named Nissan’s chief operating officer.

Following the arrest of Mr Ghosn last year and the breakdown of ties with Nissan’s French partner Renault, the nomination committee had embarked on a search for a new leader with firm management skills to stem a collapse in profits and an international mindset to revive the 20-year alliance.

Another key condition was an individual who could make a decisive break not only from the Ghosn era but also from destabilising faction politics within the company.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019