Nissan CEO apologises for loss, vows return to growth

30 Jun 2020 / 01:20 H.

TOKYO: The head of Japanese carmaker Nissan offered an apology at the firm's annual shareholders' meeting today after the company fell into the red for the first time in 11 years due to slumping sales and fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Company president and chief executive Makoto Uchida vowed to "put Nissan back on the path to growth."

"It is very important to boost its presence in the domestic market where the carmaker was born," Uchida, who took office in February, told the shareholders' meeting, which was scaled down due to the pandemic.

During the two-hour meeting, one shareholder criticised the carmaker for lacking vision for the future, compared with Toyota Motor and Honda Motor.

Uchida expected the carmaker's global demand to fall by 15% to 20% for the current financial year due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Nissan, the alliance partner of Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, has declined to release profit forecasts for the year through March 2021 as the pandemic caused uncertainty.

"I would like to explain when it's supposed to be," Uchida said, referring to the profit outlook.

Nissan posted a net loss of ¥671.2 billion (RM26.78 billion) for the latest financial year ending March 31.

Last month, Nissan unveiled plans to close plants in Indonesia and Spain as part of the carmaker's restructuring.

The number of vehicles sold globally by the carmaker stood at 4.93 million units in the year, down 10.9 per cent from fiscal 2018.

In May, the number of Nissan's global vehicle sales fell 37.3% year-on-year to 272,873 units due to the coronavirus pandemic, while worldwide production plunged 62.6% to 156,898, it said.

Meanwhile, the Toyota group, including Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors, also said its global sales declined 34.1% from a year earlier to 609,460 units in May, while its worldwide production dropped 56.5% to 408,842 vehicles.

Carmakers such as Nissan and Toyota temporarily closed their plantsin many parts of the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Nissan has been in deep trouble since the arrest of ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo in November 2018.

Ghosn, who once led the alliance, has been charged with breach of trust and falsifying financial documents to understate his income. He has denied the allegations.

Ghosnfled Japan for Lebanonin late December. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.

In May, Jean-Dominque Senard, chairman of Renault and the alliance, saidthey have no merger plan for Nissan and the French carmaker.

Nissan has long opposedRenault's proposals for a full merger. The French carmaker owns 43.4 per cent of the alliance partner.

The alliance announced a new division of labour designed to cut certain investment costs by 40 per cent.

Under the plan, a different company will take on the lead roles for each particular vehicle class, technology and region. – dpa

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