TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. will name Toshihiro Mibe, head of the its R&D arm, as new CEO, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Japan's second-biggest automaker by sales will announce the decision after a board meeting as early as Friday, the people said, requesting anonymity because the information is not public. Mibe will be confirmed as president and representative director at an annual shareholders' meeting in June, they said.
Mibe, who is a director at Honda, will replace Takahiro Hachigo, who has held the CEO role for six years.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Seiji Kuraishi will remain in his post to support Mibe, the people said.
It was not immediately clear whether Hachigo would retain a position at Honda.
Honda said in a statement on Wednesday that it is not true the company has decided to change its CEO.
Mibe, 59, joined Honda in 1987, taking part in engine development as well as managing the company's powertrain and drivetrain businesses. His career includes an operating officer stint in 2014 and he is currently also in charge of intellectual property and standardization.
After becoming Honda R&D president in 2019, he and Hachigo pushed forward structural reform at the research unit, with electrification in mind.
Hachigo became CEO in 2015, a rare appointment for Honda considering he had not headed the R&D arm as is typical for Honda CEOs. He spearheaded restructuring plans to simplify and improve efficiency in developing cars, seeking ways to cut model variations and production costs.
During his tenure, the automaker consolidated vehicle and motorcycle development operations, while shifting the research unit's focus to new mobility and robotics.
Honda hiked its full-year operating profit forecast 23 percent to 520 billion yen ($4.91 billion) earlier this month as it trimmed costs while demand in China and elsewhere gained momentum. That compared with larger peer Toyota Motor Corp., which raised its forecast by a bigger-than-expected 54 percent to a record $19 billion.