Nissan China head, turnaround executive among CEO candidates

The new appointment will be a critical one for the future of Nissan. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Nissan China head, turnaround executive among CEO candidates

SEATTLE: The head of Nissan Motor’s China business and an executive tasked with leading its revival have emerged as two of the top candidates to take over as the next CEO of the troubled Japanese automaker, four people familiar with the matter said.

Discussions are still underway and nothing has been decided, said the sources. There is also a possibility that another candidate could still be successful, with temporary Chief Executive Yasuhiro Yamauchi seen as one possibility.

The appointment of Nissan’s next CEO in October will have vast implications for the future of Japan’s second-largest automaker and its strained alliance with shareholder Renault SA. The next leader could push for deeper ties with Renault or greater independence.

Makoto Uchida, in charge of Nissan’s operations in China, its biggest market, is seen as being favoured by Renault and Renault-friendly members of Nissan’s board. Jun Seki, who previously headed the China business and is now spearheading an internal team charged with Nissan’s recovery, is said to be preferred by those from the Nissan side.

“Renault is much more familiar with Uchida,” one Nissan insider said. “The Renault side thinks Uchida is much easier to control than Seki.”

Nissan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other board members are throwing their weight behind Seki, partially due to politics but also because he is seen as having more well rounded experience as an auto executive, two sources said.

“Given the short lead time, the next CEO most likely wouldn’t be someone too far from the existing power structure,” said Andre Lindeque, of Turnpoint Consulting, an automotive recruiting agency in Tokyo.

“The focus on improved corporate governance may allow them the leeway to elevate someone who does not pose too much disruption to the leadership team.”

Nissan said this week that Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa will resign on Sept. 16, bowing to pressure after he admitted to being improperly overpaid by around $440,000. It marks more upheaval at a company battered by a plunge in profit and the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn last year.

Yamauchi will take over as temporary chief executive and the nominations committee has said it wants a permanent replacement appointed by the end of October.

Yamauchi, 63, is widely seen as a bridge between the alliance partners, and the near four-decade Nissan veteran is known to be well-regarded at Renault where he serves as a board member. 


Air Arabia in $14bn deal to buy 120 Airbus A320s

Updated 18 November 2019

Air Arabia in $14bn deal to buy 120 Airbus A320s

  • Air Arabia currently operates a total fleet of 53 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft
  • The new carrier, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, will be launched in “due course,” Etihad said at the time

DUBAI: Air Arabia said Monday it would buy 120 Airbus A320s in a deal worth $14 billion that represents a major expansion for the United Arab Emirates low-cost carrier.

“The first delivery is expected to start in 2024,” said Adel Al-Ali, the CEO of Air Arabia, based in the emirate of Sharjah which borders Dubai.

Air Arabia currently operates a total fleet of 53 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

Last month it announced an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based giant Etihad Airways to launch a new low-cost airline based in the UAE capital.

The new carrier, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, will be launched in “due course,” Etihad said at the time.

Etihad, established in 2003 by the oil-rich Gulf emirate’s government, has faced stiff competition from Dubai aviation giant Emirates and Doha-based Qatar Airways.