TOKYO - Hiroyuki Yoshino says he is willing to listen when other carmakers call to discuss possible tie-ups or other deals with Honda Motor Co.
But that polite response does not mean that Honda's new president has any interest in a merger.
Honda's preference to go it alone 'doesn't mean that we would reject (the idea) before we even listen to whoever would like to approach us. But our real gut feeling is that there is only an extremely remote possibility that we would be interested,' Yoshino said.
As for Honda's buying anyone else: 'So far, we haven't even thought about an acquisition of another carmaker. We have no plans along those lines whatsoever.'
In other comments, Yoshino predicted that any rebound in the stagnant Japanese car market will take 'quite some time still' to occur.
In interviews with the Japanese press, Yoshino has indicated that Honda's experience in working with the UK's Rover Group in the 1980s confirmed his preference to go it alone. Working with another company, he has said, slows decision making and generally works against the nimbleness needed in today's market.
Besides his personal aversion to tie-ups, Yoshino has set in motion management changes that would work against a merger or acquisition.
Reversing the top-down style of his predecessor, Nobuhiko Kawamoto, he is reasserting Honda's traditional bottom-up management approach.
Kawamoto, who retired in June, felt that tough times demanded decisive leadership. He took charge, and led Honda to a financial turnaround and a surge of new products that has seen Honda almost catch up with Nissan Motor Co., Japan's longtime No. 2 carmaker.
Kawamoto's approach worked, but Yoshino now wants to give some of the initiative back to his underlings.