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Japanese motor tycoon Nagamori yields presidency of Nidec

73-year-old corporate icon to remain as CEO while taking a step toward succession

Nidec chief Shigenobu Nagamori speaks to the press on Jan. 24 in Tokyo. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

TOKYO -- Japanese motor maker Nidec said on Thursday that its founder, Shigenobu Nagamori, will hand over the presidency in June, in a move aimed at determining a successor for one of the most revered entrepreneurs in the country.

He will retain his position as chairman and CEO, the Kyoto-based company announced. Vice President Hiroyuki Yoshimoto, 50, is to take over as president after the annual shareholders' meeting in June.

Nagamori, 73, is one of the most famous corporate leaders in Japan, along with Masayoshi Son of SoftBank Group and Tadashi Yanai of Fast Retailing, operator of Uniqlo.

The question of who Nagamori will choose as his successor has drawn intense interest from the industry and the markets. The latest appointment indicates that Yoshimoto has emerged as a forerunner to be Nagamori's successor as head of the company.

Hiroyuki Yoshimoto, currently a vice president of Nidec, is set to become president in June.

Nagamori recruited Yoshimoto in 2015, while the younger man was president of Nissan Motor's Thai operation. After beginning his career at Japanese trading house Nissho Iwai, now Sojitz, Yoshimoto moved to the auto industry, working at parts maker Calsonic Kansei and Nissan. He has been serving as president of Nidec Tosok, a listed subsidiary of Nidec, since May 2015.

Nidec was founded by Nagamori in 1973 to produce small precision motors in Kyoto. It adapted itself to take advantage of rising demand for motors in various products, including electric vehicles, robots, energy-saving appliances and drones.

Another key to Nidec's success is its aggressive acquisitions. Nagamori is widely known as an M&A maestro, and under his reign, Nidec closed a total of 56 deals at home and abroad. In a recent interview with The Nikkei, he summed up his acquisition record as: "56 wins, zero losses. All were successful."

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