Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Nissan profit more than halves

NEW-ENERGY AMBITIONS:The firm wants to buy a stake of as much as 25% in a Chinese electric vehicle maker and it has narrowed the potential targets to start-ups


Nissan president and chief executive Hiroto Saikawa speaks at the company’s annual results news conference at its headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Crisis-hit Nissan Motor Co yesterday revealed full-year net profit at a near-decade low and forecast a further decline as it battles to recover after the shock arrest of its talismanic former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The Japanese firm’s bottom-line profit for the fiscal year to March fell 57.3 percent to ¥319.1 billion (US$2.9 billion), the lowest since 2009-2010 when the company was struggling in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Sales fell 3.2 percent with operating profit down for a third straight year, said Nissan — which is allied with France’s Renault SA and fellow Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Co.

The results were in line with its revision announced last month.

For the year to March next year, Nissan said its net profit would nearly halve further to ¥170 billion, with sales projected to fall 2.4 percent.

The results came as Ghosn, now released on bail, awaits his fate after prosecutors hit him with a fourth set of charges over alleged financial misconduct.

Among other accusations, authorities suspect he syphoned off about US$5 million for his personal use from money transferred from Nissan to a dealership in Oman.

Ghosn denies that charge and insists he is innocent of all allegations against him.

Tokyo prosecutors have filed a request to revise the content of their indictment of Ghosn for aggravated breach of trust, providing further details on alleged cash transfers involving the former Nissan chairman and a Saudi Arabian friend, Kyodo news reported.

Separately, Nissan is looking to invest in a Chinese electric vehicle start-up, according to people familiar with the matter, to provide it with a greater footprint in the world’s biggest market for new-energy vehicles.

The Japanese company wants to buy a stake of as much as 25 percent in a Chinese electric vehicle maker and it has narrowed the potential targets to start-ups including WM Motor Technology Co (威馬汽車), Zhejiang Hozon New Energy Automobile Co (合眾新能源汽車) and CHJ Automotive Co (車和家), said the people, asking not to be named as the plan is not public.

The plans signal that Nissan is looking to push ahead with ambitions in electric vehicles started when Ghosn was still chairman.

While Ghosn was arrested in November last year on charges of financial misconduct, throwing Nissan’s alliance with Renault into turmoil, the Japanese automaker cannot afford to take its eye off the Chinese market, with rivals including Volkswagen AG and Tesla Inc doubling down in the nation.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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