At the meeting at company headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, shareholders approved the appointment of a slimmed down board of 10 directors nominated, including existing president and CEO Makoto Uchida, from twelve previously.
The company did not propose to reappoint chief operating officer (COO) Ashwani Gupta, a former Renault executive who formally stepped down at the meeting. The departure of the Indian-born executive from the company was marred with controversy, with reports of an executive clash before his surprise departure was announced earlier this month.
Reports have since emerged alleging CEO Makoto Uchida had placed Gupta under surveillance in an attempt to gain leverage and ultimately remove him from his position. The company has since said it would not appoint a new COO to replace Gupta and that it was investigating the allegations of surveillance activity.
Gupta was appointed COO of Nissan in December 2019 to help head the company’s recovery following the ousting and subsequent arrest of former CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Ghosn is currently suing Nissan for US$1bn and connected individuals for ousting him in 2018 and for arranging his arrest for alleged financial misconduct.
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The chair of the nomination committee Masakazu Toyoda and legal expert Jenifer Rogers also stepped down from the board while former IBM executive Brenda Harvey was the board’s only new appointment.
The revamped board follows efforts by Nissan over the last few years to gain more independence from Renault which currently holds a 43% stake in the Japanese automaker. Earlier this year Renault agreed to reduce its stake to 15%, in line with Nissan’s holdings in Renault.
Nissan also announced changes to its executive committee “in response to the constantly evolving market conditions”. Uchida said the company “will introduce a flatter and more agile leadership structure which will further empower regional and functional leadership”.
The chairpersons of the regional management committees, including Guillaume Cartier, senior vice president (SVP) in charge of Africa, Middle East, India, Europe and Oceania; Jeremie Papin, SVP in charge of the Americas; and Shohei Yamazaki, SVP in charge of China; will become members of the executive committee. New and existing members will all report directly to CEO Uchida.