TOKYO—Renesas Electronics Corp. will appoint Bunsei Kure, a former CEO of Calsonic Kansai, a large Japanese automotive component supplier, as its new president and CEO, Nikkei, Japan’s economic newspaper, reported Saturday (April 9). The nomination will be submitted for approval at the Ordinary General Shareholders’ Meeting in June, the newspaper reported.
Renesas had not returned a call from EE Times by press time.
Kure, if approved, will be the third CEO of the troubled Japanese chip company, after Hisao Sakuta—who oversaw Renesas’ restructuring and brought it back into the black. Sakuta stepped down a year ago.
Kure started his professional life a banker, but cut his teeth in the automotive industry by running Calsonic Kansai—Nissan owns 40.7 percent of it—and turning it into a global automotive parts and components supplier serving customers beyond Nissan.
Running Renesas, however, is turning out to be a huge challenge even for experienced top-level managers.
Look no further than Takao Endo, who succeeded Sakuta as Renesas CEO last summer. The 61-year-old Endo, a former executive at the Japan units of IBM and Oracle abruptly departed Renesas only six months after he took the post.
Although Renesas stated that Endo had expressed a desire to resign for “personal reasons,” local media and industry pundits offer a different story. They cited irreparable disagreements on strategy between Endo and the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ). INCJ, a partnership between the Japanese government and private corporations, owns 69.15 percent of Renesas.
While Endo was at the Renesas helm, Infineon Technologies last November reportedly expressed interest in Renesas. While INCJ at that time pondered its exit through the sale of some or nearly all of its Renesas shares, Endo was reportedly more interested in acquiring, rather than getting acquired by, foreign companies.
The job of managing Renesas gets harder because some Renesas shareholders are also customers. There is “definitely a conflict of interest,” said Takashi Yunokami, author of several books on the Japanese semiconductor industry. On one hand, Toyota, as Renesas’ major customer, is interested in purchasing Renesas’ chips at the lowest price possible. On the other hand, Toyota also wants Renesas’ to make lots of money and survive.
Some in the Japanese industry say that Sakuta left Renesas last year not because he succeeded with the first phase of reform at Renesas, but because Sakuta and Toyota didn’t much like each other.
Aside from Toyota, Nissan’s Retirement Benefit Trust Account, with the trustee being Mizuho Trust & Banking Co.,Ltd. and re-trustee Trust & Custody Services Bank, Ltd., owns 1.49 percent Renesas.