Nissan CEO Hiroto Sakiawa to step down, report says

ReutersNissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa at a news conference in Japan

ReutersNissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa at a news conference in Japan

Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa tendered his resignation Monday after acknowledging that he had received dubious income and vowed to pass the leadership of the Japanese automaker to a new generation.

Saikawa told a news conference he wanted to solve the company's issues before stepping down, and he apologised for not being able to do so.

"Saikawa recently has indicated his inclination to resign, and in line with his desire to pass the baton to a new generation of leaders at Nissan, he will resign on September 16", Nissan's chairman of the board, Yasushi Kimura, told a news conference. He'll be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi until a permanent replacement is named by the end of October.

Japanese media reports said Saikawa had received tens of millions of yen - or hundreds of thousands of United States dollars - in extra compensation.

Another board member, Motoo Nagai, said that there was "no illegality" to what Mr Saikawa did but he should not have delegated elements of his pay to another executive.

Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing and accuses Nissan executives opposed to his plans to further integrate the firm with France's Renault of plotting against him.

"I have been trying to do what needs to be done so that I can pass the baton over as soon as possible", he told reporters earlier in the day, referring to his willingness to leave his job.

The announcement followed a meeting of the carmaker's board on Monday.

Since Ghosn's arrest and ouster as chairman, Saikawa has led a company-wide overhaul of Nissan's corporate governance, including by bringing in more outside directors.

His resignation marks a dramatic early exit for a man who had been tasked with righting the Japanese automaker following the arrest and ouster of former chairman Carlos Ghosn late previous year.

Kelly also said Saikawa had once asked him whether there was a way to get the automaker to pay for the purchase of a house.

"Nissan must have known about the improper payment to Saikawa when it conducted its in-house probe into Ghosn", Kyodo quoted Hironaka as saying.

But the CEO himself came under pressure in the scandal's wake, facing calls to resign from shareholders who view him as too heavily associated with the Ghosn era.

Nissan's profits and sales have tumbled over the past year.

The Japanese firm has also struggled to steady its relationship with Renault as part of a tripartite alliance with Mitsubishi Motors that Ghosn founded and once led.

Renault holds a 43-percent stake in the Japanese automaker, which in turn controls 15 percent of the French firm but has no voting rights - an arrangement that has caused tensions.

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