Going, going, Ghosn? Rock star CEO finally slowing down

TOKYO -- Is Renault-Nissan uber-executive Carlos Ghosn -- dubbed the rock star CEO in Japan -- finally looking to leave the stage?

As he prepares for Nissan's annual shareholders' meeting on June 26, the 58-year-old Ghosn undoubtedly will face questions from the floor about how long he expects to stay at the helm.

A recent report by Bloomberg said he has no plans to preside over the carmaker's next midterm business plan. The current plan, launched by Ghosn last year, ends March 31, 2017.

If he bows out then, he'll be a ripe 63, still relatively young by corporate Japan's standards. Consider Suzuki Motor Corp. patriarch Osamu Suzuki. At 82, he's firmly at the wheel.

Before the recent speculation about him hanging up his hat, Ghosn acknowledged the wear and tear of his job.

But without question, even at 58, Ghosn has paid his dues.

Even before the recent speculation about him hanging up his hat, Ghosn acknowledged the wear and tear of his job.

Speaking at the Automotive News World Congress in January, Ghosn was asked whether he plans to remain CEO of both Nissan and Renault until he retires. His short answer: "I hope so."

Then he got pensive about straddling two companies on different continents: "Do I recommend it to anybody? No, I don't.

"You do it because you have to do it," Ghosn added after the laughter died down. "Heading one car manufacturer is enough."

In the rarified league of truly global, jet-setting chief executives, Ghosn arguably is matched only by Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Both worked magic in resuscitating failing car companies. But Ghosn holds an edge in bragging rights.

Marchionne added Chrysler to the Fiat empire three years ago. Ghosn has overseen his two-company alliance since 2005.

And Ghosn's task is arguably more complex and challenging in virtue of its larger size and the cultural gymnastics he has to execute as the foreign boss of a Japanese national icon.

Whenever Ghosn finally does step down, no one will say he didn't stand and deliver. His retirement will be a rest well deserved.

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