Nissan has narrowed candidates for its CEO to three Renault-Nissan veterans, with Renault's chairman conducting interviews, people familiar with the matter said.
Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard spoke on Tuesday with the candidates in person in Paris or via TV conference, the people said.
Senard sits on the Nissan board's nominating committee, a post he received in June after a battle with Nissan executives.
Two of the candidates are Japanese company veterans -- Nissan’s acting CEO Yasuhiro Yamauchi and former Nissan China chief Jun Seki.
They are seen as the front-runners, the sources said. But Nissan’s board and Renault have kept up dialogue with Indian-born Ashwani Gupta, and a possible external candidate.
Gupta, 49, joined Renault in 2006 in India as a purchasing manager, and was sent this year to Nissan’s alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. as COO. Gupta was interviewed by Senard on Tuesday via TV conference, the sources said.
The support of Renault, which has a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, will be critical to winning the CEO post, as will support from Japan’s trade ministry, which has intervened in Nissan’s affairs, sensitive to Renault's upper hand in the alliance.
A Renault spokesman declined to comment.
One issue Senard raised, according to the sources, was Nissan's ability and willingness to defend its dividend payout, which was cut for the fiscal year ended March 31 following a 45 percent decline in Nissan’s operating profit. That dividend cut wiped 130 million euros ($146 million) off Renault’s 2019 earnings.
Nissan is forecasting earnings to continue to slip this fiscal year.