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Exec Shuffle: Nissan Attempts To Strengthen Management in Major Shakeup

TOKYO — Nissan announced on Friday that Carlos Ghosn, its iconoclastic chief executive, will be pulled out of his role overseeing the company's U.S. operations as part of a major shakeup to bolster management at the Japanese automaker. Instead, Ghosn will be charged with directing the overall strategy of Nissan and its alliance partner Renault.

Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan executive vice president for Europe and a purchasing wizard, will replace Ghosn for the Americas. The changes are effective April 1. "The priority for our new management team is to act decisively on the multiple challenges facing Nissan and to boost our overall performance in 2007," Ghosn said in a statement.

At the same time, the Japanese automaker announced that it was slashing production at two factories in Japan because of slow sales. Nissan said a month ago it was on course for its first annual decline in profits since Ghosn was sent in to lead a revival in 1999. Ghosn, nicknamed "The Icebreaker," for his skill at ignoring local business practices that interfere with making money, is widely credited with turning Nissan around.

In February, Nissan cut its annual profit forecast after a 22 percent decline in earnings in the fourth quarter. At the time, Ghosn described the situation as a "performance crisis."


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