Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who took the place of unseated Carlos Ghosn and publicly charged him of financial misconduct, has said he has no intent of resigning any moment soon, even after signaling in January he would step down shortly, according to people knowledgeable about the matter.
Saikawa told executives during an internal meeting he intends to stay at least three more years to assist the automaker recoup from the aftermath of the Ghosn scandal, one of the people said, asking not to be named discussing a private matter.
Nissan’s top executive made the remarks about the span of his tenure to senior executives, not long after signifying at a Jan. 24 press conference that he ‘d discontinue the top job “as soon as possible,” according to the person.
A Nissan spokesman, Nicholas Maxfield, declined to comment beyond what Saikawa said at that press conference.
Irrespective of Saikawa’s plans, there’s no certainty he will stay on in the CEO role if the company’s efficacy takes a serious hit from the Ghosn scandal or there is some unanticipated legal exposure for the company.
Sealing Saikawa’s position as the long-term head of Nissan could make it more difficult for France’s Renault SA to push for deeper ties with its Japanese partner. While Ghosn headed up the boards of both Renault and Nissan, and was working toward combining the companies until his arrest, Saikawa has voiced passionately against a merger and has become known as a defender of Japanese interests.
The former chairman said he had been grooming the Japanese executive for many years when Ghosn appointed Saikawa CEO in 2017. Tensions emerged after an inspection scandal forced Nissan to recall a million vehicles and shut down Japanese production for two weeks. Ghosn chastised Saikawa, 65, for moving too slowly to resolve the crisis and carry out an action plan, people familiar with the matter have said.
After Ghosn’s arrest, Saikawa criticized the alleged criminal behavior, referring to it as “the dark side of Ghosn’s long reign.” Ghosn subsequently held responsible a conspiracy inside Nissan to oust him.
The time frame given by Saikawa for staying dovetails with the end of Nissan’s “M.O.V.E to 2022″mid-term strategy. That six-year plan intends to boost revenue to 16.5 trillion yen ($148.6 billion) and operating margin to 8 percent.
At the January press conference, Saikawa said he would “pass the baton”to new leaders “as soon as possible” after overhauling Nissan’s corporate governance rules. He said that was his obligation after Ghosn’s Nov. 19 arrest for alleged financial crimes.
Ghosn denies the charges and was freed on bail March 6. His trial isn’t expected to start until at least later this year.

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