Hiroto Saikawa

Nissan boss Hiroto Saikawa put on the spot by two consulting companies

Glass Lewis shareholder advisory firms and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have called for a vote against Nissan boss Hiroto Saikawa at the June 25th general meeting.

Hiroto Saikawa is in the hot seat. A major consulting firm has urged Nissan shareholders to vote against retaining Nissan’s boss as general manager of the Japanese automaker. A rare public disavowal for a leader of a large Japanese firm that intervenes amid tensions between Nissan and its French partner Renault. Worse, another investor representative, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), sent a similar document to its clients, reported the Japanese business daily Nikkei.

“Despite the initiatives taken” by Nissan to strengthen governance, “we are troubled by the fact that Mr. Saikawa will continue to sit on the board of directors and remain at the helm of the company,” says Glass Lewis. Director for 14 years, he was present when Carlos Ghosn, former CEO of the group, committed alleged financial malpractice, recalls the consulting company. “Therefore,” she continues, “we can not confidently support the appointment of Mr. Saikawa who should have taken more steps to exercise his supervisory role.”

Tensions within the Alliance
The renewal of the boss of the Japanese manufacturer must be endorsed by at least half of the shareholders. But the instructions of these two companies weigh heavily in the votes in general meeting. Hiroto Saikawa, who has been in charge since 2017 and a former Ghosn loyalist who has returned his jacket, wants to stay at his post to prepare the succession, but many voices are rising to demand his departure quickly and start on new bases after the Ghosn affair.

Renault, Nissan’s largest shareholder with a 43.4% stake, initially assured its partner of its support. In late May, the French group’s president, Jean-Dominique Senard, said he would “not oppose” the appointment of any of the new board members, including that of Mr. Saikawa. But since then, the situation has escalated between the two allies and, Mr. Senard, returning on his commitments, sent a letter to Mr. Saikawa informing him of his intention not to vote the reform of the governance of the Japanese group. , providing for the creation of three committees (appointments, audit and remuneration).

He requested that one or two Renault representatives be appointed to each of the commissions, while Nissan wanted to appoint independent directors. In Paris, however, it is certain that a solution will be found and that this resolution can finally be voted at the GA, which promises in all cases agitated. Renault is holding its general meeting on Wednesday.

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