Nissan executive Gupta to quit over internal ‘rivalry’: source

Nissan’s chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta will leave his position at the Japanese automaker, a source said Thursday, confirming a report that described a leadership clash within the company.

The Indian national has held the job since December 2019 — a time of turmoil for Nissan after the shock arrest a year earlier of ex-chief Carlos Ghosn, who later jumped bail and fled Japan.

Since then, rivalry between Gupta and chief executive Makoto Uchida has hampered the firm’s efforts to rebalance its alliance with French automaker Renault, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

Gupta agreed to step down following multiple internal complaints, seen by some as a campaign to engineer his resignation, the British newspaper said.

A source close to the matter confirmed Gupta’s impending departure to AFP, saying the number-two executive wanted to become CEO one day and wasn’t prepared to continue in his current role.

“He had a very clear ambition to take the top job. He wasn’t forced out, but he had understood” that it wouldn’t be possible in a “very Japanese” company still reeling from the Ghosn scandal, the source said.

There was “a little rivalry” between Gupta, 52, and 56-year-old Uchida, the source added.

Nissan declined to comment directly on reports that Gupta was poised to leave the company, with the Financial Times saying an official announcement could come within days.

“Independent third parties have been retained to verify facts, and carry on appropriate actions,” a Nissan spokesman told AFP, referring to the reports of internal complaints.

Earlier this year, Nissan and Renault signed a deal to reboot their rocky 24-year relationship, following months of painstaking negotiations and repeated delays.

Under the agreement, Renault will slash its stake in Nissan, which will in turn take a stake of up to 15 percent in Renault’s new electric vehicle venture Ampere.

The Financial Times said Renault executives had long viewed Gupta as “one of the biggest obstacles in negotiations between the alliance partners” because he consistently rejected the French company’s demands. — Agence France-Presse