YOKOHAMA, Japan – Nissan Motor released financial results of its last fiscal year that reflect the corporate earthquake after the arrest of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
“Clients, shareholders, I apologize for all the inconveniences,” Nissan Motor’s top executive, Hiroto Saikawa, said at a press conference before bowing his head apologetically to dozens of journalists.
Saikawa released the data in a press conference at the headquarters of Nissan Motor, in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday.
Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19 and faces a long legal process in Japan for alleged financial irregularities.
The case, which Saikawa described as an “unprecedented incident,” without citing Ghosn by name, led to a deep corporate crisis at Nissan and endangered its alliance with Renault, an ally and major shareholder of the Japanese firm.
“There was a time when we were not able to concentrate on the operations, the employees, the customers, our partners were anxious, and I’m sorry,” Saikawa said.
According to the figures released, in the fiscal year of 2018, which finished at the end of March, Nissan’s income fell by three percent and the benefit operative fell 45 percent.
Nissan recorded net profits of 3.19 billion yen ($2.92 billion), 57 percent less than in the previous fiscal year, and the number of vehicles sold had an interannual reduction of four percent.
In the United States alone, vehicle sales fell by nine percent to 1.44 million units, while in Europe, excluding Russia, they fell by 18 percent to 536,000 units.
Ghosn’s arrest and subsequent prosecution, a corporate earthquake in one of the leading Japanese firms, forced Nissan Motor to review its structure.
“Directly or indirectly, all this was reflected in the results of the company,” Saikawa said.
The results could have been worse had it not been for a three percent increase in the number of vehicles sold in China (1.56 million) and the two percent growth in sales in Japan, where Nissan placed 596,000 units.
Asked about the future of the alliance with Renault, and the desire of its top executive, Jean-Dominique Senard, to seek a merger, Saikawa said that he is not a supporter of it, and that the company should focus on recovery.
He added that a merger could “undermine the strength of Nissan.”
Renault has 43 percent of Nissan’s shares.
There has not been any concrete step for Renault to increase its capital in the Japanese firm, or even reduce it.
In his presentation, Saikawa gave details about the plans to improve the firm’s results, with a horizon in 2022, which involves measures to increase sales, improve operations and investments and achieve sustained growth with new products.
“In two or three years we would like to return to the original situation of Nissan, please give us time,” he added.