TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa had the lowest approval among the 11 directors endorsed by shareholders at its annual general meeting (AGM) this week, gaining only 78% of the votes, a filing showed on Thursday.
The low approval comes in the wake of a rare public rebuke for Saikawa from international proxy firms. International Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis earlier this month had urged shareholders to vote against him, citing the need to break with the scandal-plagued era of his former boss, Carlos Ghosn.
Saikawa, a former Ghosn lieutenant, trailed well behind the 99.1% votes in favor of Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of Nissan partner Renault SA. The two men had a public spat this month over Nissan’s governance reforms that raised concerns about the future of the automaking alliance.
Nissan released the breakdown of votes from the annual shareholders meeting in a filing to Japan’s financial watchdog.
Saikawa’s standing among shareholders has eased somewhat from the last vote two years ago, when his directorship was endorsed by 79.9% of shareholders who voted. Only Ghosn had a lower approval at that time, receiving 75.4%.
Nissan shareholders on Tuesday voted in favor of a new governance structure and board to address lax auditing revealed after the arrest of Ghosn over financial misconduct allegations. Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Tokyo and out on bail, denies all the charges against him.
In a separate filing, Nissan said it would forgo paying Ghosn deferred retirement benefits totaling 4.44 billion yen ($41 million), along with 2.27 billion yen in share-related rights, after it accused its former chairman of underreporting his salary from the automaker.
Ghosn’s planned compensation for the year to March totaled 1.65 billion yen, comprising 410 million yen which had been paid, and a payment of 1.24 billion yen which would have been paid after retirement.
Nissan canceled the latter payment after firing Ghosn as chairman following his arrest in Japan in November.
Ghosn has been charged with five counts of financial misconduct, and has essentially been under house arrest in Tokyo while he faces trial next year.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by David Dolan and Himani Sarkar