Carlos Ghosn will step down as CEO of Nissan after 16 years of leading the company and will instead focus on the company’s relationships with Renault and Mitsubishi. In his place, cost-cutting guru Hiroto Saikawa will assume the reins of Japan’s No. 2 automaker.
Ghosn will continue to be the chairman at Nissan, a position he also holds at Renault and Mitsubishi. However, at Renault he will also remain the CEO and will have a more hands-on role in the company. The French automaker – which is owned in part by the French government – also owns more than 40 percent of Nissan. Ghosn’s departure to focus on Renault may be a sign of an increased focus on that relationship, as well as on efforts to improve the Nissan-Renault alliance, particularly in efforts to integrate their engines and gearboxes.
Prior to his years at Nissan, Ghosn earned the nickname, “Le Cost Killer” at Renault and Michelin. The reputation paid off for Nissan as Ghosn helped rescue Nissan from years of losses and debt. In his place, Ghosn appears to have hand-picked a successor who is very much cut from that same cloth.
Saikawa is also an experienced cost-killer who has built his career managing purchasing and supply chains. He was elevated as Nissan’s chief competitive officer in 2013 and became co-CEO last November. He also presently heads Japan’s auto industry lobby.
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