Mazda to Replace President as CX-5 Maker Returns to Profit

Mazda Motor Corp., Japan’s most export-dependent carmaker, said Takashi Yamanouchi will step down as president next month to make way for younger managers after the company returned to profitability.

Yamanouchi, 68, will be replaced by senior managing executive officer Masamichi Kogai, 58, as part of broader management moves that will take effect after the June 25 annual shareholders’ meeting, the Hiroshima, Japan-based company said in a statement. Mazda, which a year ago was reeling from its biggest loss in 11 years, said it delayed the executive changes because of its “financial situation.”

“I want to go to the front line of R&D, production and sales and see what people feel and think,” Kogai told reporters in Tokyo today.

Mazda, which last month posted its first annual profit in five years, said net income may double to 70 billion yen ($709 million) this fiscal year. The stock has more than tripled in the past six months as the carmaker benefited from a weaker yen and demand for its CX-5 sport utility vehicle and Mazda 6 sedan.

Mazda fell 1.2 percent to 332 yen at the close in Tokyo trading, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 0.7 percent. The carmaker has climbed 91 percent this year, beating the benchmark’s 37 percent advance.

Kogai joined Mazda in 1977 and oversees production and purchasing.

Yamanouchi, who has been president since 2008, will remain chairman, having overseen the company’s transition to an independent automaker after Ford Motor Co. began cutting its stake. Executive Vice President Seita Kanai, 63, will become vice chairman, according to the statement.

“I’d like to hand over the work to younger people,” Yamanouchi told reporters today in Tokyo.

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