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Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa to step down amid Renault alliance fractures

One day after Carlos Ghosn stepped down as CEO and chairman of French automaker Renault, its alliance partner Nissan will see a similar shakeup. Ghosn’s protege and current Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa announced he will step down from his role in the coming months, Bloomberg reported Friday. Saikawa has only been at the top position at Nissan since Feb. 2017 after Ghosn stepped down as CEO from the automaker.

Hiroto Saikawa

Ghosn remained Nissan’s chairman and CEO and chairman of Renault. The executive’s career and legacy quickly came crashing down in November 2018when he was charged with financial misconduct in Japan.

The former Nissan and Renault executive remains jailed in Japan and was recently re-arrested on fresh charges of transferring personal investment losses to Nissan’s books between 2008 and 2012. Nissan removed him as chairman shortly after his initial arrest. Mitsubishi ousted him as chairman shortly after that.

Carlos GhosnCarlos Ghosn

Saikawa’s move to vacate his position as CEO of Nissan is seen as a fresh start for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which has fractured in the past month following news of Ghosn’s alleged crimes. Rumors have persisted of bad blood between Nissan executives and Ghosn over the latter’s push for an all-out merger of both the Japanese and French automakers. Saikawa himself said he does not believe deeper integration of the two is the right solution.

It’s unclear when Saikawa will actually leave his position, but Bloomberg reported the executive said he will “pass the baton” in the coming months. He also said he feels he’s accomplished his main goal at Nissan during his relatively short time as CEO: reforming sub-par governance that has weakened the automaker, in his view.

With both Ghosn and Saikawa out, the future of the automaker’s alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi is still not entirely clear. Renault’s board installed Jean-Dominique Senard. formerly of Michelin, as the automaker’s new CEO. Saikawa will still have a few months to work out details for the alliance moving forward, and it’s unclear who may be next in line to take over the top executive position at Nissan. According to Friday’s Bloomberg report, executives from the alliance will meet in the Netherlands next week for the first time since Ghosn removed himself. That meeting could shed more light on the future of the alliance.

Motor Authority