Nissan Chief Executive Makoto Uchida speaks during a press conference at the automaker's headquarters in Yokohama on Monday. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
business

Nissan's new CEO reaffirms alliance, promises revival

20 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

Nissan Motor Co’s new chief executive Makoto Uchida reaffirmed Monday the importance of the Japanese automaker’s alliance with France’s Renault, as it strives to puts its financial scandals behind it.

A day after he up his post, Uchida told reporters he will emphasize transparency and work to restore Nissan’s credibility.

He repeatedly acknowledged the company was in a “extremely harsh situation.”

Uchida, who also is Nissan’s president, takes over at a time of crisis, with sales and profits tumbling, after its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was arrested last year on various financial misconduct charges.

Ghosn denies wrongdoing. His trial has not started, and the scandal hangs like a shadow over Nissan.

Uchida took over after Ghosn’s successor Hiroto Saikawa was ensnared in a scandal of his own, centered around dubious income. Saikawa announced in September he was stepping down.

Analysts say hopes are high Uchida and his new team will lead a revival at Nissan. But uncertainties remain, and the effort is likely to take time.

“I will most definitely steer Nissan as the CEO,” Uchida said, standing on stage next to a Z sportscar, a symbol of Nissan’s proud history.

He said past management had made the mistake of fostering a corporate culture that encouraged the setting of unrealizable goals, although Nissan engineers and workers were very talented.

He said the “Nissan Way,” as outlined by Ghosn and Saikawa, will be reviewed, but said specifics on targets weren’t yet ready to be disclosed.

But he stressed the alliance with Renault and smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. must remain strong, deepening cooperation but respecting each other’s independence “as equal partners.”

Janet Lewis, an analyst with Macquarie Capital Securities Japan, said Uchida appears to be well-liked at the company, and has experience with the Renault alliance and with the Chinese market, where Nissan is doing well.

Although he lacks U.S. experience, Uchida’s deputies have that experience, Lewis said.

A recovery will likely take several years.

“I think it is naive to think that anyone can turn Nissan around within a year,” she said.

She said Nissan has fallen behind in product development, a problem dating back to the years under Ghosn. It’s up to the new leadership team to fix that.

“We believe investors should remain on the sidelines until there is more evidence that the turnaround is on track,” she said.

Analysts say Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi need to keep their alliance and should cultivate a more positive relationship.

Mitsubishi was brought into the alliance after a series of scandals, and Ghosn’s troubles coincided with mounting friction over more closely integrating Nissan with Renault.

Research development and platforms, the basic parts on which vehicles are built, are being shared among the alliance members. It would be nearly impossible to pull out without drastic consequences, the analysts say.

Takaki Nakanishi, an analyst with Jefferies, said Uchida and his new team will try to show the company is turning over a new leaf, perhaps disclosing their own plans by May.

“While management policies of the new executive team are undetermined at this point, they are likely to involve the development of a new business revitalization and shift to an accommodative stance in the relationship with Renault,” said Nakanishi.

Ghosn has said other managers at Nissan colluding with the Japanese government and prosecutors to arrest him on trumped up charges as part of a plot to block Ghosn from working toward a fuller merger of Nissan with Renault.

Prosecutors insist they have a case.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


20 Comments
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What has happened over the last year has been a complete travesty, with the legal system abused to address a business situation that was not to the liking of J Inc.

Rooting for Nissan's success at this point is impossible for me. It would be rewarding reprehensible actions by Nissan J management, J bureaucrats, and J prosecutors.

The sad thing is that Uchida is probably a decent person but has been put in an impossible position. Equally, the vast majority of Nissan employees are nothing more than vulnerable pawns in this whole tawdry affair.

Regardless, tough times are head of Uchida and Nissan, I do believe.

23 ( +23 / -0 )

Wow! Ghosn gets a quite a few mentions in this article. It seems as if they are blaming all the doodoo that Nissan is in on Ghosn. However, Nissan was already in deep doodoo when he took over and he turned the company around into a prosperous entity. It's only in the last six months or so since he was arrested and replaced that Nissan has returned to the struggling company it was twenty odd years ago. Consumers have lost any confidence in the company due to the underhanded coup to oust Ghosn. It was he who initiated the alliance with Renault and all negotiations have stalled since his arrest.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

Yeah, that is easy to say after foreigners did the dirty job and get a kick in their bu**! Like in the past for Olympus. Usual Japanese hypocrisy. Shame on you Nissan.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I hope Nissan fails miserably.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

Ghosn denies wrongdoing. His trial has not started, 

Was it not suppose to start in Oct/Nov this year?

What happened to Saikawa?

What happened to the other guy that got arrested (forgot his name) and has been released.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

The Nissan management has spend the last 18 months with politics, powers truggles, intrigues petty jealousies and trying to built a case to pin all the problems on one person, Ghosn, who built the brand into a serious competitor in the first place and saved it from bankruptcy. I have some serious doubts that this team can be molded into an efficient and visionary team to built the cars for the future.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

"...as it strives to puts its financial scandals behind it...." That's the easy part. Finding someone who can undo the damage the company did to itself in removing Ghosn may not even be possible.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I do not envy him the position, I wish him the best of luck.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Hey look, we're not happy that a gaijin managed to be successful where other Japanese CEOs have failed miserably for the past 20 years, so we are going to torpedo his work and success, make him look like the devil, and replace him with a new Japanese CEO...

... Oh wait, the new Japanese CEOs are failing again, quick quick, let us pretend we are still opened to the alliance that we so consciously and meticulously destroyed, nobody will notice...

... smh

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Pity, as they make some good cars.  worryingly, they seem to be going the way of the Japanese chip, TV, hi fi and other electronics and appliance companies.  Losing out to the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean competition......

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Nissan Motor Co’s new chief executive Makoto Uchida reaffirmed Monday the importance of the Japanese automaker’s alliance with France’s Renault, as it strives to puts its financial scandals behind it.

Mr.Ghosn has not even been on trail yet, so scandal is still on-going.

Of course in the eyes of the Japanese, Ghosn is already guilty, the key has already been thrown away, and they "just want to forget".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Nearly all important managers in the european car industry have very good connections with each other. After Ghosn I highly doubt anyone will be willing to work in Japan in a similar position. It is a shame, but I see only two possible outcomes for Nissan from now on:

Bankruptcy (a slow one of course after several rounds of help from the government)

Getting bought by Renault or another car maker - most likely foreign
4 ( +5 / -1 )

What has happened over the last year has been a complete travesty, with the legal system abused to address a business situation that was not to the liking of J Inc.

Rooting for Nissan's success at this point is impossible for me. It would be rewarding reprehensible actions by Nissan J management, J bureaucrats, and J prosecutors.

My feelings and sentiments exactly.

I hope Nissan fails miserably.

So do I.

Yeah, that is easy to say after foreigners did the dirty job and get a kick in their bu**! Like in the past for Olympus. Usual Japanese hypocrisy. Shame on you Nissan.

Exactly.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The three companies that comprise the 'Alliance' Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi (remember them!), do not work well together; and many of their business systems are incompatible. Until that is addressed, serious recovery is a long way into the future, and mouthing platitudes to the media and sound bites for investors won't help.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Nissan's new CEO promises revival

Funny thing, I remember hearing PM Abe spouting the same thing when he was ejected. How’s that worked out?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Pity, as they make some good cars. worryingly, they seem to be going the way of the Japanese chip, TV, hi fi and other electronics and appliance companies. Losing out to the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean competition......

Japanese industry has been in decline for a long time now, with more competition from other countries.

But in the case of Nissan, Japans own Ministry of (so-called) Justice has brought the company down.

Even more sad is that Japans Ministry of Justice (and Saikwa) has degraded all the hard work that was done by millions into building Japans manufacturing industry in the years after WW2, and the building of international trust.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't feel sorry for his pay. But I feel sorry for what he has inherited. He's going to be forced to pull a rabbit out of a hat every single moment. He will have to try to distance himself from Ghosn stigma in Japan and outside of it. He will have to distance himself from the Saikawa stigma.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Place bets on how long this guy lasts...

1/4 on a year, 1/2 on six months...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As mentioned before, Nissan ironically is in the same spot it was in 20 years ago except their cars were better made. They have been blaming Ghosn for all their woes, they will never become Toyota period. Cutting engineering which cuts quality diluted the brand in the long term. Stop whining and accept your responsibility instead of trying to sway the court of public opinion that one man caused the problem when the board members approved it so long as the bottom line was good. The sorry leadership that put them there is still there and nothing will change. The new CEO looks stressed and does not have the skillset like Carlos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It depends, change everybody from the saikawa time. It is his duty and only natural action. This time just talk will not do the job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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