Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday Carlos Ghosn will step down as chief executive officer and the company's co-CEO Hiroto Saikawa will become the automaker's sole CEO.

Ghosn, who has stewarded Japan's second-largest automaker for the past 16 years, will step down on April 1, but will remain as chairman of its board of directors.

The Brazilian-Lebanese-French businessman, who also serves as the chairman and the CEO of the Renault SA, will focus more on this French partner alliance to appease shareholders.

The Porto Velho native, who also became chairman at Mitsubishi Motors Corp. from December last year, was believed to be over-stretching himself.

"Having recently taken on new responsibilities at Mitsubishi Motors, I have decided that the time is right for Hiroto Saikawa to succeed me as Nissan's CEO," Ghosn said in a statement.

"As Nissan's Chairman, I will continue to supervise and guide the company, both independently and within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance," he said.

Ghosn added the move would allow him to focus more of his attention on the French alliance.

Saikawa, who has been with Nissan for 40 years, has been co-heading the automaker with Ghosn since last November, following Nissan's tie up with Mitsubishi Motors.

Saikawa has, among numerous other roles, previously served as Nissan's chief competitive officer, chief executive of US operations of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Nissan North America, Inc. and executive vice president of European operations.

He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at Tokyo University in March 1977.

(Original title: Ghosn to step down as Nissan's CEO, Saikawa to become sole chief executive)


Editor: Lan Suying