Shigenobu Nagamori, Nidec Corp.’s billionaire chief executive officer, has something to confess.
The 71-year-old CEO thinks his employees are more important than investors, according to an interview with Bloomberg’s Tom Redmond and Takako Taniguchi. That’s because he believe shareholders would ultimately benefit from an effective workforce in the long run.
Here is Nagamori (emphasis ours):
“When I’m asked by investors, I tell them they’re No. 1, but it’s not what I really think,” he says. “I speak my mind if shareholders ask strange questions at the annual general meeting. I tell them it would be better if the likes of you didn’t own our shares. I say I can’t choose my shareholders, but you can choose the company you invest in.”
Nagamori says he seriously looks after his employees though. He’s unwilling to fire employees if they’re putting in the hours, instead choosing to find them another position where they might perform better. He eats every meal with his staff.
Japanese companies are, of course, famous for a culture of lifelong employment (and infamous for asking a lot of their workers in exchange). But many have struggled to maintain the kinds of ideals that Nagamori professes, with the use of part-time labour (that’s cheaper and offers fewer benefits) growing.
In that environment, Nidec is a standout. The company,
which began in a shack next to Nagamori’s mother’s farmhouse, has grown to a $27 billion electronics giant in Japan. The company sells everything from hard-disk drives to manufacturing equipment, and is delivering a stellar performance in the markets so far.
The company’s shares have rallied 457% from its 2008-low, which is nearly 8 times the advance in the benchmark Topix index. Its return on equity is at 12.1%, beating Topix’s at 6.8%.
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