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Nissan retains Saikawa as CEO, in likely rebuff of Renault

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According to sources in both Reuters companies, the reappointment of Saikawa is likely to be perceived as a rebuff from Renault SA, which pushed for a change of leadership as a prelude to merger talks. According to several people, Saikava, who has long opposed full integration, is seen as an obstacle to unification.

Nissan proposed that Renault executive director Thierry Bollor join the board of directors and Renault chairman of the board of directors Jean-Dominique Senard remain in it. The board will be increased to 11 members from eight, and seven external directors will be included. Proposals will be voted on by shareholders in June.

The composition of the Nissan board is of paramount importance for the Nissan-Renault alliance. Unequal relations between them - a smaller Renault has a large share in Nissan - has long been a source of friction.

The board unanimously supported Saykawa, although he acknowledged that he may not have done enough to curb Gosna, one of the outside directors said. Ghosn, accused of financial misconduct, denies wrongdoing.

"Although there are issues related to the responsibility of Saykawa, we consider it more constructive to focus on cooperation within the framework of the alliance, the restoration of Nissan and its strategic plan,” said Keiko Ihara.

"We had a lively debate, we didn’t rush to look at the risks ... but in the end all the directors agreed to the appointment,” she said, adding that Senar Renault agreed at a meeting earlier this week with a decision to leave Saykawa
However, a source close to Senard said that earlier this week there was not a single vote, unanimous or not, about the reappointment of Saikawa to the post of general director.
The boring work of Nissan for several months after the dramatic exile of Ghosn in November caused concern to the French automaker.

Renault owns 43% of its larger partner, and analysts estimate that a 30% reduction in Nissan dividends this year will result in a loss of about 130 million euros (145 million dollars) from the profits of a French company.

According to Ihara, two Renault representatives were recommended to the French automaker on the Nissan board of directors to strengthen the alliance. Renault also recommended Bernard Delmas, who heads the French tire company Michelin in Japan.

The assumption about the future of Saykawa was widespread, and the composition of the board of directors after Nissan this week noted a 28% drop in annual profits and reduced dividends, highlighting its struggle to turn the page after Gosna.

The arrest of Gosna in Japan and the immediate resignation of Nissan complicated the partnership, since Renault refused to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alliance’s finances and kept its absent leader as chairman and CEO for another two months.
Ghosn is on bail and is awaiting trial in Tokyo.

Nissan shares fell 0.9 percent on Friday, down 0.9 percent from the Nikkei average.


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