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      Nissan's Ghosn crisis

      Nissan looks to ex-Toray president to lead board meetings

      Chairman post to remain vacant as automaker tackles governance reform

      The former chairman of the Japan Business Federation, Sadayuki Sakakibara, is a member of Nissan Motor's committee for governance reform.   ? Reuters

      TOKYO -- Nissan Motor is considering tapping Sadayuki Sakakibara, a former president of materials company Toray Industries, to preside over board of directors meetings while keeping the chairman post vacant as part of governance reform.

      Nissan values the managerial skills of Sakakibara, who also served as chairman of  the top business lobby Japan Business Federation. The plan is for him to be installed as an outside director at a shareholder meeting in June and then assume the role of overseeing board meetings.

      Sakakibara already heads a special governance reform committee set up by Nissan in December following the arrest of ex-Chairman Carlos Ghosn. The automaker has promised to incorporate its proposals, due out at the end of March, in revamping its management structure.

      The committee's proposals are expected to include such steps as curtailing the power concentrated in the chairman and having an outside director to preside over board meetings. This reflects the thinking that Ghosn, who controlled boardroom discussions while serving as chairman, amassed too much power, enabling his alleged improprieties. Separating executive and oversight functions will be central to addressing such concentration of power.

      The position of Nissan chairman, meanwhile, will remain open. French automaker Renault, a partner of Nissan's in an automotive alliance, previously demanded the right to name Ghosn's successor. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, however, told reporters Tuesday that he is not seeking the job, dropping that demand.

      Nissan believes there will be no effect on its operations should the chairman position remain unfilled. It is not expected to eliminate the post entirely.

      "I want to advance our relationship with Renault," Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told Nikkei last month, expressing an eagerness to remain in the post. Senard is expected to become an outside director and vice chairman pending approval by shareholders.

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