Nissan Motor Co chief executive officer Makoto Uchida yesterday told shareholders that he is giving up half his pay after the Japanese automaker sank into the red amid plunging sales and plant closures in Spain and Indonesia.
Uchida apologized for the poor results and promised a recovery by 2023, driven by cost cuts and new models showcasing electric-vehicle and automated-driving technology.
“We will tackle these challenges without compromise,” he told a livestreamed meeting. “I promise to bring Nissan back on a growth track.”
Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, sank into its first annual loss in 11 years, reporting a ￥671.2 billion (US$6.3 billion) loss for the fiscal year that ended in March. It has not given a projection for this fiscal year, citing uncertainties over the COVID-19 outbreak.
One angry shareholder got up and said that executives should give up more of their pay since investors were getting zero dividends.
Another said that Nissan needed to do more to strengthen its governance, adding that things have been getting worse, not better, since the departure of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested in late 2018.
One stock owner appeared to speak up for Ghosn, saying that Nissan had lost people’s trust after ousting him without giving him a chance to defend himself over problems that might have been solved internally, instead appearing to collude with prosecutors and government officials.
Nissan officials denied any collusion and said that the company has sued in civil court, seeking compensation for the damages it says it suffered because of Ghosn.
Ghosn was set to face trial in Tokyo on charges of under-reporting future compensation and breach of trust when he fled to Lebanon late last year.
He says he is innocent.
Uchida again outlined Nissan’s strategy to focus on three major global markets — Japan, China and North America, including Mexico — and relying on alliance partners for the other markets.
The company also plans to reduce the number of models it offers.
Yet one investor said that Nissan’s sales were not picking up in the US or China, and its stock prices were continuing to slip.
Uchida said that Nissan wants to close its Barcelona plant, but added that negotiations were ongoing.
Auto union workers have protested the move, which would lead to the loss of 3,000 jobs in the region.
One shareholder got applause from the crowd when he said that Nissan lacks an attractive vision compared with Toyota Motor Corp, which is aggressively developing ecological technology, and Honda Motor Co, which boasts robots and jets in its lineup.
After a nearly two-hour shareholders’ meeting, the reappointment of all 12 Nissan board members was approved.
The board members include Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Nissan’s alliance partner Renault SA, who took part online from France, but said nothing.
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