April 19, 2019 / 1:08 AM / 3 months ago

Nissan slams output cut report as 'completely incorrect'

(Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Ltd said on Friday a report by the Nikkei that it would slash production this year was “completely incorrect” and that it had lodged a complaint with the business daily, in an unusually strong denial of a media report in Japan.

FILE PHOTO: A Nissan logo is pictured during the media day for the Shanghai auto show, China, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The comment came after the Nikkei, revered in Japan for its business news and known for its market-moving scoops and previews, said Nissan would cut its global production by about 15 percent for the current fiscal year ending March 2020.

The move would mark a shift away from the aggressive expansion campaign promoted by ousted former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, the Nikkei said.

“The details reported in this story are completely incorrect, and Nissan has voiced its strong objection to the Nikkei,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement posted on its website.

“Nissan’s production plan for the current fiscal year will be disclosed on May 14, when the company announces its financial results for the previous fiscal year,” said the maker of the Rogue sport-utility vehicle and Altima sedan.

The Nikkei, which also owns Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, confirmed it had received the complaint from Nissan. It said it would continue to cover the issue and promptly report all the facts once they become clear.

The newspaper had earlier reported that Nissan aimed to produce about 4.6 million units in fiscal 2019, citing plans being communicated to the automaker’s suppliers. The move was likely to impact earnings and could cast a pall over Nissan’s alliance with French automaker Renault SA, the Nikkei said without elaborating.

That would be the steepest production cut in more than a decade by the Japanese automaker, as it battles weak sales in overseas markets including the United States where it plans to scale back sales operations, according to the Nikkei.

Earlier this year, Nissan, which has been battling falling sales, lowered its operating profit forecast for the current fiscal year to 450 billion yen ($4 billion), 22 percent lower than a year earlier. It would be Nissan’s lowest profit since 2013.

Japanese companies typically respond to media reports by saying they were not the source of the information and, depending on the content of the report, that they may be considering various options and that nothing had been decided.

It is rare for a Japanese firm to say it has issued a strong rebuke to a media outlet.

Shares in Nissan, mired in a financial misconduct scandal involving Ghosn and the company itself, closed down 2.2 percent on Friday, versus a 0.5 percent rise in the broader market.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in BENGALURU, and Maki Shiraki, Chris Gallagher and Ritsuko Ando in TOKYO; Writing by Miyoung Kim and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Christopher Cushing and Mark Potter

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