“Having recently taken on new responsibilities at Mitsubishi Motors … I have decided that the time is right for Hiroto Saikawa to succeed me as Nissan’s CEO,” Ghosn said in a statement.
“As Nissan’s chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance,” he said, adding that the move would allow him to devote more time to running the alliance.
Handing over the reigns at Nissan will likely enable Ghosn, known in the auto industry as “Le cost killer” to focus on further leveraging the scale of the automaker alliance to lower costs for production, procurement and R&D.
Saikawa, a 40-year Nissan veteran, has served as co-CEO since last November after the automaker took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors. Prior to that, he served as chief competitive officer, and also currently heads Japan’s auto industry lobby.
Brazilian born and of Lebanese descent, Ghosn began his career at Michelin Tires in France, moving on to Renault, where he oversaw a turnaround of the French automaker.
From there he came to Nissan in 1999, leading the Japanese automaker’s revival from a debt-laden company which had been in the red for most of the 1990s to Japan’s No. 2 selling automaker. He became CEO of the company in 2001.
Nissan says Ghosn to relinquish CEO role, Saikawa to take helm – CNBC