23 Feb 2017

Carlos Ghosn cedes role as Nissan CEO

Carlos Ghosn who is considered a wizard at business management is stepping down from his place as a Chief Executive officer in Nissan Motors after 16 years of service. Ghosn has received his nickname “Le Cost Killer” after his impressive performance that turned the tide for the Japanese firm.

Ghosn saved Nissan Motors from collapsing by imposing radical changes to the way that the company was managed and improved the way it functioned. This was very difficult to achieve in Japan, a country where business is managed with old traditional ways and foreign people are not particularly made welcome in high ranked positions. Sixteen years later he is called “7-11” by the Japanese people, a nickname that implies that he works from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. in a country that it is well known for the difficult work conditions. Some food menus in various expensive restaurants in Tokyo have been named after him and there is even a comic that represents him as a super hero.

Renault, the French car maker that was facing a grim economic situation in 1996, hired Ghosn as an Executive Vice President to develop a plan for returning to profitability. The Lebanese manager achieved that the following year. In 1999, Ghosn formed the Renault-Nissan alliance and subsequently went to Japan to take over the management of the ailing company. By then Nissan had a 20-billion dollar debt and only 3 out of 46 models were generating profit.

The revival plan that Ghosn crafted lay-offs, shutting down plants and other tricks to reduce the debt. In 2002, Nissan announced the successful end of the revival plan for which many analysts were skeptical if it could be achieved. In 2007, he led the Renault-Nissan alliance into the electric car market when he said that there is another way to cover the demand in developing countries. Nissan Leaf is one of the first family cars to use electricity in the world and it is clearly a Ghosn creation.

Carlos Ghosn was the first manager in history to lead two companies on the Fortune Global 500 simultaneously. His latest idea of purchasing a stake in Mitsubishi Motors brought the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance up the same size with Toyota and Group VW that produce 10 million vehicles annually.

Nissan announced that Ghosn will pass his mantle onto the 40-year old Hiroto Saikawa who was until recently a co-CEO of the company. Carlos Ghosn will still be the chairman of the alliance and, as he said in his statement, wants to focus on lowering costs and to find new ways to help the evolution and expansion. Analysts in Tokyo were surprised by Ghosn’s quick decision and noted that he will face challenges on his projects because he doesn’t want Mitsubishi to be overly dependent on Nissan.