New Nissan CEO vows to improve corporate culture after Ghosn’s reign

Nissan Motor Co.’s new CEO Makoto Uchida on Friday vowed to improve the automaker’s corporate culture following the two-decade reign of former president Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested and ousted on allegations of financial misconduct last year.

“I will be engaged (in my job) by focusing on rebuilding confidence and recovering business performance,” Uchida said in a group interview after taking office on Dec. 1 as part of a redesign of management aimed at restoring the company’s battered revenues and improving governance.

Uchida said it was important to create an atmosphere where employees could have an open chat.

Nissan’s external committee, set up to strengthen corporate governance, concluded in March that the concentration of authority in Ghosn had led him to commit his alleged wrongdoing and highlighted the corporate culture of Nissan “in which no one can object to” Ghosn.

The new CEO also said that Nissan will strengthen its alliance with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

“We have friendly relations where we respect each other and generate profits,” Uchida said.

The former senior vice president in charge of operations in China worked for Renault in South Korea and on purchasing at Nissan in cooperation with the French automaker.

Hit by slump in global sales, Nissan predicts net profit to hit 10-year low of 110 billion yen ($ 1 billion) and operating profit to drop to 11-year low of 150 billion yen in the current fiscal year until next March. In May, Nissan downgraded its sales target in its medium-term business plan, breaking with Ghosn’s expansionist policy, and pledged to review its sales policy in its main US market, where the company’s heavy reliance on incentives to sell cars has shaken profitability and hurt brand perception.

In July, the company also announced restructuring measures, including 12,500 job cuts and shutdowns of unprofitable factories over the next three years.

“The foundations for overcoming the significant challenges have already been laid. My role is to make it happen, ”Uchida said.

Uchida took the leadership after Hiroto Saikawa, a close lieutenant to Ghosn, resigned as CEO in September, admitting he was overpaid by a company-run stock-linked compensation plan.

The automaker has undergone a drastic management overhaul since the Ghosn scandal, hiring more outside directors as new board members and setting up committees to oversee executive appointments, compensation and audits .

Ghosn is on trial in Japan for under-reporting of compensation and aggravated breach of trust at Nissan. He denies the allegations.

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