TOKYO (AFP) – A string of defections by top Nissan executives is reigniting longstanding questions about who will succeed chief executive Carlos Ghosn, the man widely credited with reinventing Japan’s number-two automaker.
Speculation about Nissan’s future hit a fever pitch earlier this month after the resignation of Andy Palmer, a widely respected Ghosn lieutenant, who took up the top job at British sports car maker Aston Martin.
That followed the July departure of Johan De Nysschen, who led Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand, to become the head of General Motors’ Cadillac unit, while Carlos Tavares quit the Renault-Nissan alliance last year to run French rival PSA Peugeot Citroen.
“It’s a loss for Nissan – they’ll be hard to replace, especially Palmer,” said Christopher Richter, an auto analyst for brokerage CLSA in Tokyo.
The resignations brought into focus renewed concerns about who Ghosn would install at the top when he decides to step down from Nissan and his dual role as head of Renault, following a management reorganisation last year.
Former Nissan chief planning officer Andy Palmer at the presentation of the company’s new commercial electric vehicle ‘e-NV200’ at Nissan headquarters in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo on June 9. A string of defections by top Nissan executives is reigniting longstanding questions about who will succeed chief executive Carlos Ghosn, the man widely credited with reinventing Japan’s number-two automaker – AFP
The 60-year-old executive has only said that the decision was up to shareholders, stoking questions about whether the opaque timeline led possible successors to dust off their resume and try their hands elsewhere.
Andy Palmer was “very high ranked, also ambitious, but he would not have a chance to run Nissan by himself any time soon”, said Hans Greimel, Asia editor for US-based magazine Automotive News.
“I don’t think that Carlos Ghosn is pushing these guys out, but without doubt he is a very demanding boss to be working under.”
Nissan – which makes the Altima sedan, X-Trail SUV and Leaf electric vehicle – has aggressively lured top talent under Ghosn, who came to Nissan in 1999 as chief operating officer.
He was dispatched by Renault after the French firm took a stake in the Japanese automaker which was then on the brink of bankruptcy.