Suzuki patriarch's son appointed president

Suzuki Motor president and chairman Osamu Suzuki, who joined the company in 1958 after marrying into the family, had led the firm since 1978, turning it into one of the world's biggest carmakers.
Suzuki Motor president and chairman Osamu Suzuki, who joined the company in 1958 after marrying into the family, had led the firm since 1978, turning it into one of the world's biggest carmakers.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Suzuki Motor Corp named the eldest son of chief executive Osamu Suzuki the new president of Japan's fourth-biggest carmaker, easing investor concerns over the firm's succession plans.

Executive vice-president Toshihiro Suzuki took over the role from his 85-year-old father as president and chief operating officer yesterday, while the elder Mr Suzuki will remain CEO and chairman. Company shares got a more than 5 per cent boost after the announcement.

Suzuki Motor also laid out financial targets under a new five-year business plan, including a goal to raise revenue to a record in the year ending March 2020.

Mr Osamu Suzuki has helmed the carmaker since 1978, and the question of who would succeed him, and when, has been one of the biggest issues confronting the firm.


New head Toshihiro Suzuki was named one of Suzuki’s four executive vice-presidents in 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Suzuki had previously attempted to groom his son-in-law, Mr Hirotaka Ono, to succeed him, but that plan was derailed when Mr Ono died of pancreatic cancer in 2007. Two other executives had briefly held the post of president in the 2000s. Both resigned after a few years, citing health reasons.

Mr Toshihiro Suzuki, 56, was named one of Suzuki Motor's four executive vice-presidents in 2011, raising speculation that he would eventually take the top post.

Before joining Suzuki Motor in 1994, he had worked at the company that became Denso Corp.

Fellow executive vice-president Yasuhito Harayama will become vice-chairman, Suzuki Motor said in a statement.

Mr Harayama, a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, was hired by the elder Mr Suzuki to oversee the carmaker's dealings with Volkswagen AG, with which it formed a capital tie-up in 2009. Suzuki Motor is now trying to dismantle those ties by buying back the 19.9 per cent stake held by the German giant in an international arbitration court after the partners fell out.

Mr Osamu Suzuki, born Osamu Matsuda, joined the carmaker in 1958 after marrying into the family. During his nearly four decades at the helm, he turned the loom-maker founded by his wife's grandfather into one of the world's biggest carmakers, famously blazing the trail into the Indian market in the early 1980s.

Suzuki, through its local subsidiary, Maruti Suzuki India, is the top-selling carmaker in India and has a market capitalisation of 2.24 trillion yen (S$24.6 billion), roughly equal to that of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2015, with the headline 'Suzuki patriarch's son appointed president'. Print Edition | Subscribe