TOKYO -- Nissan Motor will appoint its CEO, Carlos Ghosn, as chairman of Mitsubishi Motors when Nissan takes a controlling stake in the smaller automaker, multiple reports said.
Ghosn, 62, would become the first executive to head three major volume automakers at the same time. He also serves as CEO at Nissan's alliance partner Renault.
The Nikkei newspaper, along with Bloomberg and Reuters, today reported that Ghosn will take the chairman's role at Mitsubishi. Ghosn has asked Mitsubishi Chairman and President Osamu Masuko to remain president, the Nikkei said.
A Renault-Nissan alliance spokesman called the reports "speculation" and Mitsubishi declined to comment.
Koji Endo, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at SBI Securities, said it will be easier for Ghosn as Mitsubishi chairman to do the things he did at Nissan, such as combining platforms, cutting costs and even closing plants. "In order to implement such massive restructuring, you need someone as powerful as Ghosn to get things going," he said.
However, not everyone is in favor of Ghosn taking on the chairmanship of a third automaker. "I think he has enough work to do at both Renault and Nissan," said Hans-Peter Wodniok, a Frankfurt-based analyst with AlphaValue. "He should also spend all his time in these two companies rather than taking on another job in Japan."
Nissan in May said it would buy a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi for around 237 billion yen ($2.3 billion) after Mitsubishi admitted to falsifying the mileage on four minivehicle models, including two produced for Nissan. The admission prompted a sell-off of Mitsubishi shares.
In August, Mitsubishi was also found to have overstated the mileage of eight additional models, including the Pajero and Outlander SUV. The automaker blamed poor communication, lax governance and internal pressure for its lack of compliance.
After Nissan's purchase is finalized, Mitsubishi Group companies - trading house Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ - will see their total shareholding diluted to around 17 percent.
Mitsubishi will make a formal decision on executive appointments after a shareholder meeting in December, the Nikkei reported. Nissan is set to close the deal by the end of the year.
'Le Cost Killer'
Ghosn is highly regarded in the auto industry for being able to turn around flagging companies and is known for his sometimes brutal cost cutting. After his radical makeovers of Renault beginning in the 1990s and Nissan in the early 2000s, Ghosn earned the nickname "Le Cost Killer." Taking over as Nissan’s president, he brought the then-struggling company back from the brink by breaking up its so-called keiretsu network of suppliers, shutting plants and leveraging an alliance with Renault.
A Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance would create the world's fourth-largest automotive group.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report