Nissan retains Saikawa as CEO, in likely rebuff of Renault

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co said on Friday that Hiroto Saikawa would stay on as chief executive, backing the protege of former boss Carlos Ghosn even as top shareholder Renault had earlier pushed for a change in the Japanese automaker’s leadership.

Saikawa’s re-appointment is likely to be seen as a rebuff to Renault SA, which has pushed for leadership changes as a prelude to merger talks, sources at both companies have told Reuters.

“While there are issues pertaining to Saikawa’s responsibility, we feel it is more constructive to focus on cooperation within the alliance, Nissan’s recovery and its strategic plan,” Keiko Ihara said.

There had been widespread speculation about Saikawa’s future and the make-up of the board after Nissan this week flagged a 28% drop in annual profit and slashed its dividend, underscoring its struggle to turn a page after Ghosn.

Ghosn’s arrest in Japan and immediate ouster by Nissan strained the partnership, as Renault resisted a full investigation of alliance finances and kept its absent leader in office as chairman and CEO for two more months.

Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Naomi Tajitsu; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Anshuman Daga

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