TOKYO -- Investors in Nissan Motor expressed outrage over the carmaker's lackluster performance and management disarray at an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday, as the company continues to flounder following the dismissal of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Makoto Uchida, Nissan's new CEO, vowed to turn things around during the meeting, which lasted two and a half hours. He said the company is considering structural reforms, including closing production lines and staff cuts, and will announce changes to its midterm business plan, which was previously set for completion by March 2023.
The meeting was held to nominate four new executives to the board,including Uchida, who has been CEO since last December. Former CEO Hiroto Saikawa was also officially removed.
Investors who spoke up during the meeting were unimpressed. "Executives' pay should be cut, given such a bad performance," one said, as others applauded. "I am very concerned, seeing Nissan's stock price fall," another shareholder said, pointing out the automaker's long slide in global unit sales.
"It is all my responsibility ... that the performance dropped significantly and I am taking the dividend reduction very seriously," Uchida answered. "I will be at the helm and visible to shareholders, and if you cannot see that, please fire me immediately. I am determined to work with resolve."
Last week Nissan downgraded its net profit outlook for the current fiscal year, its second cut since November last year. It now forecasts a $65 billion yen ($592 million) net profit, an 11-year low, for the year ending March. The automaker also lowered its annual dividend to 10 yen per share, its smallest payout since 2011.
Nissan's stock price slipped below 500 yen on Tuesday morning. The previous day its shares hit an 11-year low.
Other shareholders raised questions about the management team. "It is too irresponsible that Jun Seki left Nissan weeks after he was appointed vice-COO," complained one. "I knew there have been several deputy CEOs but Mr. Uchida, you are not even a director. So what are these deputy CEOs?"
Less than one month after Seki's appointment as deputy chief operating officer, it was announced that he was stepping down to join electric motor manufacturer Nidec, where he will serve as president starting April 1.
"Confusion in management is very much damaging Nissan's brand," shouted another investor.
Uchida acknowledged that company had judged its management "with too much optimism," saying a recovery will require more time. Previously Nissan had said earnings would bottom out this year.
Shareholders were divided on how to handle the situation with Ghosn, who is now in Beirut, having jumped bail while awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct. One investor said the automaker should concentrate on its current management issues without worrying about Ghosn. Another said the company should try to claw back money from the ousted chairman and return it to shareholders.
Nissan announced last week that it has filed a civil suit against Ghosn, seeking to reclaim 10 billion yen ($91 million) from Ghosn.