Nissan to start discussing successors of chief executive Hiroto Saikawa

Nominating committee will discuss potential replacement at a meeting on Monday

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 17, 2018 Nissan Motors CEO Hiroto Saikawa attends a press conference at the company's headquarters in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture. The CEO of crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan plans to resign, reports said on September 9, 2019, as the firm's board meets to discuss an audit launched after its former chief was arrested for financial misconduct. / AFP / Behrouz MEHRI
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Nissan's nominating committee will discuss potential successors for chief executive Hiroto Saikawa at a meeting on Monday, after he privately signalled his readiness to resign, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The resignation of Mr Saikawa, a protege of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, would mark the latest upheaval over governance at the troubled Japanese auto maker. The company has struggled to right itself following Mr Ghosn's dramatic arrest and subsequent ouster last year.

It was swept up again in crisis when Mr Saikawa last week admitted to being improperly overpaid and in violation of internal procedures. That admission followed an internal investigation.

Nissan's board is scheduled to meet on Monday. The company, and its relationship with top shareholder Renault, has been damaged following Mr Ghosn's arrest for alleged financial misconduct in November and subsequent departure.

"The nominating committee will also meet today and discuss the selection of successor and the timing of the resignation," the source said. "Saikawa isn't at all clinging to his president's chair."

The timing of Mr Saikawa's resignation was not immediately clear. He has told some executives of his intention to resign, the source said.

The chief executive earlier told reporters that he wanted to "pass the baton" to the next generation as soon as possible, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

Nissan was not immediately available to comment.

Pressure has mounted on Mr Saikawa given the company's poor performance and strained ties with Renault. Profit has tumbled to an 11-year low and prompted hefty job cuts.

An alliance source said that a nominations committee established in June to find a successor to Mr Saikawa had drawn up a shortlist containing more than 10 possible candidates.

Names included Jun Seki, who is overseeing the company's performance recovery, chief competitive officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi, and Makoto Uchida, chairman of Nissan's management committee in China, one of its largest markets, said the alliance source.

The search and vetting process would likely take about six months as the committee considered both Japanese and non-Japanese candidates for the role, a third source with knowledge of the issue has previously said.