Wednesday, March 6, 2013
DJ: Toyota Announces Biggest Mgmt Overhaul Under Current President
TOKYO--Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) on Wednesday announced its biggest management overhaul since founding family scion Akio Toyoda took over as president four years ago.
The moves include giving the world's No. 1 auto maker its first outside directors in its 76-year history, accelerating a generational change in the executive ranks, and streamlining the organization's decision-making.
Among the outside directors named to the board is Mark Hogan, a former top executive at General Motors Co., who once ran a now-dissolved California joint venture between the Japanese and American manufacturing giants.
Toyota also said three executive vice presidents, and the current chairman, will retire. Two deputies will be promoted to take their place.
The company additionally announced a restructuring that condensed its businesses into four main pillars, designed, as the company said in an announcement to "clarify operations and earnings responsibility as well as speed up decision-making." The pillars included one for the developed markets of North America, Europe, and Japan, and another for emerging markets such as China and Latin America.
The reshuffling marks a generational change at Toyota, opening a new chapter in Mr. Toyoda's leadership tenure.
"My first four years were filled with challenges, which we all worked hard to overcome," Mr. Toyoda said at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, adding that it was time to look forward.
Indeed, Mr. Toyoda's early tenure was marked by a crisis over a massive recall over allegations of unintended sudden acceleration, a problem that raised questions about Toyota's vaunted quality control and customer service. He then had to confront the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which disrupted the intricate supply chain, and the long-running strong yen that undercut profits.
The retiring executives are some of his closest and most experienced lieutenants who were pivotal in steering Japan's largest auto maker through those difficult times. Shinichi Sasaki, who was in charge of quality control, played a key role during the 2009 massive recall that tested the company's reputation for producing high-quality safe cars. Mr. Sasaki will retire along with Atsushi Niimi, who oversaw production and the auto maker's booming North American business, and Yukitoshi Funo, who headed the emerging markets business.
All three were appointed to their current positions at the same time Mr. Toyoda, the grandson of the founder, became president and was in search of trustworthy allies as he assumed the helm.
Toyota also gets a new chairman. Takeshi Uchiyamada, widely seen as the creator of the Prius, is set to succeed Fujio Cho.
The management changes will take place pending a vote at the annual general shareholders' meeting June.