Crisis-hit Nissan CEO resigns amid pay probe

Hiroto Saikawa

Hiroto Saikawa

Nissan Motor Co CEO Hiroto Saikawa will resign on September 16, the automaker said on Monday, bowing to pressure after he admitted to being improperly overpaid and marking further upheaval at a company battered by scandal and plunging profit.

"Mr Saikawa accepted this", Yasushi Kimura, chair of the board of directors, told reporters. Until a successor is decided, Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi will serve as interim chief, the board said.

Nissan's chief executive has handed in his resignation after admitting to receiving dubious income, and vowed to pass the leadership of the Japanese auto maker on to a new generation.

Nissan Motor Co's nominating committee will discuss potential successors for Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa at a meeting on Monday, after he privately signalled his readiness to resign, a source with knowledge of the matter said. Profit has tumbled to an 11-year low and prompted hefty job cuts.

Calls for Saikawa's resignation, which arose after the arrest previous year of his predecessor Carlos Ghosn on various financial misconduct allegations, have grown louder since Saikawa acknowledged last week that he had received dubious payments.

The automaker's board met to look into the allegations against Saikawa, as well as other issues related to Ghosn's allegations and corporate ethics at the company.

Saikawa said he wanted to "pass the baton" to a new generation of executives and had told colleagues he meant to step down, the Nikkei said.

Under Saikawa's reign, he distanced Nissan from his larger-than-life predecessor, while earnings deteriorated and relations with top shareholder Renault SA soured to the point that a mega-merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV collapsed.

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It has drawn up a list containing more than 10 possible candidates. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is part of the selection committee as well, and took over from Ghosn following his scandals at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

He acknowledged last week that he had been overpaid by tens of millions of yen under an incentive scheme that awards bonuses to directors if the company's share price performs well.

The search for a permanent replacement is underway and the company said it aimed to have a new CEO in place by the end of October.

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.

Ghosn has been charged with falsifying documents on deferred compensation which he had not received.

Saikawa has not been charged.

Saikawa led Nissan's negotiations with Renault and the French government in 2015 to address an imbalance that left the Japanese carmaker with no voting rights for its stake in the French carmaker.

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