Tuesday 8 October 2019 2:00 pm

Road to recovery? Nissan appoints Makoto Uchida as CEO to turn around stricken car maker after Ghosn scandal

Nissan has named the head of its Chinese operation, Makoto Uchida, as its new chief executive, as the firm tries to put the brakes on more than a year of chaos at the firm.

The 53-year-old Japanese executive has the task of turning around the stricken car maker, which has become ensnared in a combination of financial turmoil and boardroom scandal since the arrest of ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn last year.

Read more: Life after Ghosn: Nissan slashes profit forecast in the wake of former chairman’s rearrest

He steps into the place of Hiroto Saikawa, who was the handpicked successor of Ghosn. Saikawa himself was forced out last month, after admitting that he had received payments that flouted company rules – but were not illegal. The payments came via a scheme designed by Ghosn, who faces criminal charges in Tokyo for financial misconduct.

Saikawa had also presided over a period of plunging profits, and earlier in the summer announced the firm was slashing 12,000 jobs across the globe in an attempt to cut costs.

His dismissal has also exposed what some observers have labelled a “toxic” power struggle at the top of the firm. This is seen to have held the company back on pressing forward with its recovery plan.

As well as repairing the financial and reputational damage of the Ghosn scandal, Uchida will have to pick his way through the politics surrounding Nissan’s French partner Renault.

After Ghosn’s arrest last year, relations between the two have broken down, despite a 20-year alliance.

In addition, the board has appointed Ashwani Gupta as chief operating officer. Gupta comes from Mitsubishi Motors, where he held the same role.

Read more: Nissan chief ‘tells executives he plans to resign’ after torrid year

Chair Yasushi Kimura said: “We expect Uchida to lead the company as one team, immediately focus on the recovery of the business and revitalize the company. 

“We look forward to Gupta and Seki fully leveraging their expertise and experience to support the new CEO.”

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