After Shizo Nakanishi's retirement at Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), Kenichi Ayukawa would be taking over as Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from April 1, 2013. The reason for this is Nakanishi having attained the age for retirement. This decision was taken at a board meeting presided by Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) Chairman Osamu Suzuki on 16th March. Nakanishi, who is 65 now, had taken over as the company's MD during 2007. However, Ayukawa is expected to get support from Nakanishi over subsequent months.
The decision to appoint Ayukawa comes at a time when every company, including MSIL, has been finding it hard to increase sales in the lacklustre domestic market. There has also been a lot of unrest among labourers since the last two years in the company's Manesar facility located in Haryana. Losses have resulted in a decline of almost seven percentage points in Maruti's passenger car market share. However, success has been attained by vehicles such as Ertiga, Swift DZire and Swift.
Nakanishi has donned several roles in Maruti, starting from the early 1980's. He was the Chairman at the time when Jagdish Khattar used to be MD. He came to the limelight during the 1990s, when the Government and SMC were fighting hard to get control of the Maruti Suzuki joint venture (JV). Once again when there was trouble between the Government and Suzuki over fresh company investments, Nakanishi stepped in. But he is known never to have taken credit for easing tensions, both of which gave strength to Suzuki in the JV. Subsequently, a new JV was signed between the two in 2006, where he played an important role. His term was extended in 2010 for 3 years.
The outgoing MD has also taken charge of operations for SMC in Pakistan (2004) and has served as the treasurer for Suzuki in America (1997). He was selected for the post of Deputy Executive General Manager for global marketing in the year 2008. Additionally, he has been on the Board of Maruti Suzuki as a director.
Interestingly though, Nakanishi has always been known to step away from the limelight throughout his active years, he kept a low profile, except for the times that he was required to step up. Very few in the company and elsewhere know that he is, in fact, related to Osamu Suzuki. The MD has always been a key asset to the company, who has managed to take charge of Asian markets such as Hungary, Indonesia, China, Pakistan and East Asia. One hopes that Ayukawa is also able to take over the mantle as an equally capable successor.