Nissan concerns resurface after another start

New coup at Nissan: Jun Seki, the number three of the Japanese automaker allied with Renault, will soon resign, confirmed on Wednesday the group, whose signals of appeasement in recent weeks are found considerably weakened.
T he group “accepted Mr. Seki’s wish to resign,” said Nissan in a brief statement, suggesting it was a personal choice on its part.

The 58-year-old vice-chief operating officer of the Japanese group plans to join the Japanese electric motor manufacturer Nidec next year, where he plans to exercise high responsibilities, he himself had told several media a few hours later. early.

This engineer by training has spent his entire career with Nissan. And he was one of the candidates for the post of general manager of the group after the shattering departure of Hiroto Saikawa in September, overtaken by a case of bonuses collected in excess of the time when Carlos Ghosn was in command.

Strategic “disagreements”

But the position ultimately fell to another executive, Makoto Uchida, and that of operational director (COO) at Ashwani Gupta, two figures in favor of strengthening the alliance with Renault. She had suffered from the ouster of Mr. Ghosn, arrested in November 2018 and then charged in Japan for alleged financial embezzlement.

Close to Mr. Saikawa, who had appointed him responsible for the group’s recovery plan this spring, Mr. Seki had retained this mission in the new direction, arriving at the helm on December 1. He had been associated with her by taking the symbolic title of vice-COO.

According to some media reports, Mr. Seki was probably frustrated that he had not been appointed general manager.

“It is possible”, but it is rather “disagreements” with Mr. Uchida and Mr. Gupta on the way to turn around the company, whose profits and sales are at half mast, which would have decided Mr. Seki to leave , told AFP a source familiar with the matter.

“Somewhere it is a certain rationalization, because Mr. Seki was not considered as a pro-alliance. And the duo formed by Mr. Uchida and Mr. Gupta works very well, ”said the same source.

In recent weeks, both Nissan and Renault have multiplied the appeasement messages on the future of their alliance, of which another Japanese manufacturer, Mitsubishi Motors, is also a member.

Makoto Uchida, Ashwani Gupta and Jun Seki had also presented themselves with a smile to the press on December 2 to show their willingness to work together in good intelligence, while some analysts and media doubted from the start of the viability of this triumvirate .

Nissan action wins

With the defection of Mr. Seki, the evolution of the group’s transformation plan that he had forged earlier this year becomes more vague. In July, Nissan had notably indicated that it wanted to reduce its production capacity by 10% by the end of its 2022/2023 financial year, through the reduction of 12,500 jobs worldwide by then.

The new leaders of the group must express themselves on their future strategy at a board meeting on January 14, according to the source interviewed by AFP.

This renewed uncertainty plunged Nissan action Wednesday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange: around 1:30 p.m. (local), the stock fell 2.96% to 634.2 yen, while the star index Nikkei barely fell 0.16%.

Seki “was supposed to be a central figure in driving reforms” for the group, so “it was inevitable” that his departure would raise investor fears, Makoto Sengoku, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told AFP. “It is urgent for Nissan to restructure but there are doubts about the stability of its governance”.

“Nissan is firmly committed to restoring confidence and performance, as well as working on the transformation of its activities,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday. Its new management wants to “continue to focus” on these issues, which remain its “highest priority”.

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