Nissan Motor Co.'s moves to streamline management have strengthened the position of former Renault SA executives now at Nissan.
As part of a sweeping change of leaders on three continents, Nissan COO Carlos Ghosn will replace Yoshikazu Hanawa as president. Hanawa will remain Nissan's chairman and CEO. Those changes will be made official at a board meeting in late June.
Both men downplayed the significance of the move, noting that Ghosn effectively has functioned as Nissan's president for months. 'This doesn't change anything in the day-to-day reality,' Ghosn said.
In other changes, Norio Matsumura, former head of Nissan's European operations, will take responsibility for North America and Europe. He will be based in Tokyo. 'We are eliminating one layer of management. We want Tokyo to be in tune with North America, Europe and the regions,' Ghosn said.
Thierry Moulonguet moves up from deputy CFO and senior vice president to become CFO and executive vice president for finance and information systems.
The current CFO, Kanemitsu Anraku, will leave the board but will become vice chairman responsible for external and government affairs.
Jean-Jacques Le Goff will head global marketing. He is general manager of Nissan's corporate planning department.
Yukio Kitahora will return to Japan as senior vice president in charge of Nissan's worldwide parts business from his post as senior vice president of Nissan North America Inc. His current boss, Nissan North America President Nobuo Araki, will be president of Nissan affiliate Tennex Co., a maker of air cleaners and fuel filters.
Nissan Europe N.V. President Sir Ian Gibson will retire but will stay on as a member of the Nissan Europe supervisory board.
Nissan North America also has shaken up its top executive ranks, including the appointment of a new head of Nissan Division. Jed Connelly, who had been Nissan Division general manager, has been promoted to senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America. He will oversee Nissan and Infiniti divisions. He takes the place of Kitahora.
Connelly, 54, took the top Nissan Division post last year after the surprise departure of Mike Seergy to Priceline.com. Taking Connelly's place as general manager of Nissan Division will be Bill Kirrane, 55, who had been vice president of Nissan's Southwest region.
Kirrane and Infiniti Division General Manager Tom Orbe will report to Connelly.
Jerry Benefield, Nissan's top-ranking U.S. manufacturing boss, has announced his retirement, effective April 1. Benefield, 60, has been president and CEO of Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A. since 1988.
Under a new structure announced last December, the Smyrna, Tennessee, subsidiary will report to Nissan North America Inc. in Gardena, California.
Benefield is succeeded at the manufacturing arm by Dan Gaudette, 47, who retains his title of senior vice president for U.S. manufacturing.