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. 


HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

Updated 19 min 31 sec ago

HSBC France to leave its Champs Elysees headquarters

  • HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber
  • The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management

PARIS/LONDON: HSBC France said on Wednesday its teams will leave a prestigious headquarters on Paris' Champs Elysees avenue by 2020 in an emblematic move ahead of the planned sale of its retail business in the country.
The exit and planned sale, following a strategic review of the group's French retail activities, are part of a broader cost-cutting effort under interim Chief Executive Noel Quinn.
"HSBC France has a project of moving its headquarters by 2020 to 38 av Kleber, 500 meters away from its actual headquarters that was sold in 2010," the bank said in a statement.
The building would be fit for 1,200 employees working mostly in corporate and investment banking and wealth management.
Another 500 employees will be moved to HSBC's hub in La Defense business district which now houses 4,000 of the bank's employees and to branches close to the Champs Elysees building.
HSBC France sold its headquarters at 103 avenue Champs Elysees, and a building in front of it at 15 rue Vernet, to Qatari investors and has rented them since then.
The move is necessitated because the owner wants to regain control of the buildings and also because HSBC needs to save money, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Office rents in Paris are rising to levels not seen since at least 2003, according to Immostat data, as vacancy rates are at record lows.
HSBC inherited the historic headquarters when it bought the French retail operations of Crédit Commercial de France (CCF) in 2000.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building was a hotel where World War One spy and exotic dancer Mata Hari was arrested.
HSBC Holdings has hired U.S. investment bank Lazard Ltd to sell its French retail business, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
Quinn is expected to unveil the first details of his strategic overhaul of the bank when it reports third-quarter earnings on Oct. 28.
Quinn is auditioning for the full-time CEO job and insiders said he is under pressure to take decisive action after Chairman Mark Tucker indicated his predecessor John Flint had not moved quickly enough to turn around the lender's performance.