Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second- largest carmaker, said chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn is considering stepping down before the company’s next mid-term business plan begins in about five years.
Ghosn, 58, doesn’t plan to commit to Nissan’s next mid-term plan, and investor-relations officials at the company have been telling investors and analysts this year that there is a succession plan in place, spokesman Koji Okuda said.
“Ghosn has said this is the last mid-term plan he’ll commit to, meaning he may not stay here for the next mid-term period,” Okuda said. “We need to prepare for his possible departure within a five-year period.”
His successor would follow in the footsteps of an executive credited with one of the biggest turnarounds in modern automotive history. Ghosn, the second-longest serving CEO of a major carmaker, joined near-bankrupt Nissan and turned it into a carmaker leading the industry in profitability, with its market value reaching as high as 5.73 trillion yen ($71 billion) in 2006.
“Top resignations in Japan tend to have less impact than those abroad because Japanese companies are run collegially, but Nissan is clearly different,” said Koji Endo, an auto analyst at Advanced Research Japan.
“Ghosn’s retirement would mean the loss of a strong decision-maker for the time being.”
The current business plan, which began last year and lasts through March 2017, is Ghosn’s fifth multi-year campaign at Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan since his arrival 13 years ago. The current Power 88 plan calls for Nissan to generate operating profit margins of 8 percent and grab market share of 8 percent globally, including 10 percent in China. It also calls for Nissan to churn out a new model every six weeks and reduce costs 5 percent each year.
Renault SA chief operation officer Carlos Tavares, formerly head of Nissan’s operations in the Americas, and Renault chief financial officer Dominique Thormann, may be considered candidates to replace Ghosn, according to a Nissan executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Asked about Nissan’s leadership plans during an earnings conference call with analysts in May, Ghosn said investors should expect to hear more about the matter in shareholders’ meetings. Nissan’s next annual general meeting of shareholders is on June 26.
Ghosn’s 12 years as president of Nissan makes him second only to Suzuki Motor Corp. CEO Osamu Suzuki in terms of tenure running a major carmaker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.