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Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigns

Saikawa admitted to being improperly overpaid in his position and will leave his post on Sept. 16.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa
Saikawa has only been CEO for just over two years.
Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images

The revolving door that is the Nissan CEO position has swung around once again. Hiroto Saikawa will leave the CEO position on Sept. 16 after admitting he's been improperly overpaid. The controversial payments are not illegal, but they do violate company practices.

Nissan produced a statement on Saikawa's departure on Monday that said the outgoing CEO first expressed feelings that he wanted to resign. Following a board meeting, the board of directors requested he do so, to which Saikawa agreed. Reuters reports that a committee to name his successor will expedite the process following the resignation announcement.

Saikawa has only been at the top job since February 2017 after Carlos Ghosn stepped down as CEO. The executive was seen as Ghosn's hand-picked successor and had goals to introduce stronger corporate governance and right the ship as profits plunged at the automaker. The exiting CEO will also return any overpayments as he departs the automaker.

During a news conference, Saikawa reportedly took a shot at former CEO Ghosn, himself embattled in charges of financial misconduct at Nissan, and said his push to increase market share eroded Nissan's profitability. He apologized for not delivering the results he aimed for.

In the interim, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, currently Nissan's chief operating officer, will serve as CEO. Six company outsiders reportedly make up the selection committee to replace Saikawa and top contenders include Yamauchi himself, Jun Seki, responsible for overseeing the automaker's performance recovery, and Makato Uchida, chairman of Nissan's management committee in China.

The selection committee is also reportedly looking at women, non-Japanese executives and even Renault executives. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is part of the selection committee as well, and took over from Ghosn following his scandals at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

Whoever ends up in the top role at Nissan will face many challenges. Aside from shrinking profits, he or she will need to lay out a path forward for the rocky relationship that is the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

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