Suzuki Motor chairman Osamu Suzuki to retire, become senior adviser

Suzuki Motor Corp said on Wednesday that its 91-year old chairman, Osamu Suzuki, is retiring in June.

Suzuki, who served as the Japanese carmaker’s chief executive for 22 years and then as chairman for another two decades, will step down from his current role following a shareholders meeting in June, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“The corporate management direction toward 2030 and 2050 was defined. Therefore, with the expiration of the current term of office, Suzuki will retire,” the automaker said in a statement.

The chairman will be appointed as senior adviser upon retirement, it said.

Japan’s fourth-biggest automaker earlier said it was announcing a management plan later in the day.

With almost half a century at the helm, Suzuki is widely credited with turning the carmaker into what it is today: one of the largest small-vehicle manufacturers in the world. Instead of taking Japan’s biggest auto giants like Toyota Motor Corp. head on, Suzuki worked to grow the company by finding new markets around the world for its compact automobiles, building a dominant share in India during his first of two terms as president from 1978 to 2000.

The nonagenarian also steered the company into alliances with two of the world’s biggest automakers, Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co., though those ultimately failed.

His departure comes one week after Honda Motor Co.’s chief executive Takahiro Hachigo said he would resign effective June, underscoring the churn the Japanese auto industry is currently undergoing. Japanese carmakers are beginning to recover from a tough pandemic-marred year, but even as demand revives, they’re struggling to meet sales targets amid a global chip shortage.

Suzuki is targeting a profit of 160 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for the fiscal year through March, down by about a quarter from the previous year’s 215 billion yen.

Suzuki had ceded his title of president to his son Toshihiro Suzuki in 2015, easing market uncertainty about management succession at the firm. The company’s shares are up 4% this year.

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