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Nissan to lose 20% of top managers

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Nissan to lose 20% of top managers

12 execs to leave carmaker when it relocates its U.S. headquarters to Tennessee this summer

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

A fifth of Nissan Motor Corp.’s top North American managers will leave the company when it moves its U.S. headquarters to Tennessee this summer, including the senior executive for product planning and the chief product spokesman.

Jack Collins, vice president for product planning, and Kurt von Zumwalt, director for product and consumer public relations, are among 12 managers ranked director, vice president or higher who told the company they would resign or retire.

Nissan announced on Nov. 10 that it was relocating its headquarters to Nashville from Gardena, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, despite intense lobbying from U.S. executives opposed to the move.

Nissan gave its 60 highest-ranking executives until Feb. 1 to decide whether they would head east with the company. The other roughly 1,240 employees have until April.

The list of departing executives includes Joy Crose, vice president for legal, and John Rinek, director of media and agency management.

Nissan spokeswoman Frederique Le Greves said that, excluding managers who will retire, only 15 percent will not make the move.

Collins and von Zumwalt both plan to retire. The company has not yet announced replacements.

“If it’s 80 percent” who are moving, “it’s a sign to middle management that loyalty at the top is running high,” said Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president for business development at marketing firm AMCI in Bloomfield Hills.

“But I’m wondering how solid these statistics are,” he said. “It may be preliminary intent on the part of these guys. It’s unconfirmed until they make the move.”

Nissan expects to save money by relocating to Nashville, which has a lower cost of living than California and is near the company’s U.S. manufacturing operations.

As part of a plan to cut administrative costs worldwide, Nissan also is relocating its Japanese headquarters from downtown Tokyo to Yokohama, an hour away.

But auto industry experts say the company may lose some of the edginess in its North American corporate culture by uprooting the headquarters from the trend-setting California market. Nissan generates more than half of its total profit in the United States.

The company will relocate employees in June and July. They will work in downtown Nashville for two years until a new headquarters in nearby Franklin, Tenn., is complete.Nissan’s North American design and advance product planning operations will stay in California.

Link: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic.../602070420/1148

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