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CNN Reports Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa's Resigns Effective Sept 16 Says He Was Overpaid

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Tokyo September 9, 2019; Jill Disis and Sherisse Pham, writing for CNN Business reported that Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has resigned. It's the latest in a mounting pile of problems at the Japanese carmaker.

The company's board of directors announced Saikawa's departure, which is effective Sept. 16, after a meeting on Monday. It named Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi as acting CEO while Nissan searches for a successor.

Details about the payments emerged in news reports ahead of Monday's board meeting, where the company's directors heard the results of an internal investigation into conduct at Nissan. The probe was prompted by the surprise arrest last November of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The company's stock appreciation rights program, or SAR, was a subject of the probe, according to Nissan chairman Yasushi Kimura. He spoke to reporters at a press conference in Yokohama, Japan on Monday.

While the payments were not illegal, Kimura said, the program was "intentionally manipulated" to increase the amount of money that could be gained from it.

"As a governance issue, we take it seriously," he added.

Kimura did not say that Saikawa's resignation was directly linked to any excess pay he received. Instead, the CEO had for some time intended to "hand the baton" to a successor and the company was ready to move on, he added.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Saikawa reiterated that he decided to return money he said he "shouldn't have received."

Ghosn's downfall created a crisis for the company. Nissan's alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi has been thrown into turmoil, and questions over the company's reporting of executive pay have been widely reported on.

Ghosn is now under house arrest in Tokyo, where he faces charges of financial misconduct, as well as allegations that he understated his income for years and abused his position by transferring personal investment losses to Nissan. He denies the charges against him, claiming that fears over a merger prompted a revolt at Nissan and led to his ouster.

Even before Saikawa's compensation came under scrutiny, his leadership of Nissan was in doubt. A lackluster earnings reports in May -- when Saikawa said Nissan had hit "rock bottom" -- prompted questions about whether the 65-year-old executive could survive. Profits have plummeted, and Nissan said in July that it will slash roughly 12,500 jobs from its workforce worldwide.

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo contributed to this report.