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Nidec conducts mass demotions to clear way for Nissan's Seki

Japanese motor maker ditches management-by-committee for top-down approach

Jun Seki, left, will form a two-man leadership team with Nidec Chairman and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori after becoming president in April. (Photo by Hiromasa Matsuura)

TOKYO -- Japanese electric motor manufacturer Nidec has downgraded the positions of a slate of top-level executives in order to concentrate power in the hands of Jun Seki, the incoming president, the company said Friday.

Seki, who briefly served as the third-ranking executive at Nissan Motor before jumping ship to Nidec, will answer only to Chairman and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori. Seki will assume his new title at the beginning of next month.

Together, the two men will govern in a top-down fashion, in a reversal of the management-by-committee approach instituted a few years ago.

"That was the biggest mistake since the company was founded," Nagamori said in February when announcing Seki's appointment. "We would just have meetings that did nothing but eat up time. It was frustrating because we couldn't make decisions. We were going in the wrong direction. I regret it"

Seki will replace the executive who introduced the management-by-committee approach, Hiroyuki Yoshimoto, who will be demoted to executive vice president. Joining him at that rank will be Mikio Katayama, a former Sharp president and current vice chairman.

Additionally, executive vice presidents Toshihiko Miyabe and Akira Sato will be relegated to senior vice president roles.

The only C-suite executive to survive the fallout will be Vice Chairman Hiroshi Kobe, who together with Nagamori founded Nidec out of a shed in Kyoto in 1973. Sixteen other executives were also demoted.

In 2018, Nagamori relinquished the title of president for the first time in his career to Yoshimoto. Four years earlier, Nagamori recruited Katayama, the one-time president of Sharp.

Nidec's chief seeks to attain 10 trillion yen ($93.5 billion) in consolidated sales in fiscal 2030, up from roughly 1.5 trillion yen in fiscal 2018. But earnings have recently faltered due to the U.S.-China trade war.

Nagamori hired Seki because of his lengthy track record overseeing operations for Nissan. Nidec's heir apparent will steer the company as it transitions to making electric vehicle motors.

At Nissan, Seki was once considered a candidate to replace Hiroto Saikawa, who stepped down as president last fall over improper compensation. But Seki's role as Saikawa's senior deputy reflected poorly on him. He was instead named as the vice chief operating officer, the bottom position of Nissan's newly created triumvirate.

Seki decided to leave Nissan in December, the 58-year-old telling Nikkei there was "no time left" to advance his career.

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