Toyota Motor was expected to announce today (20 February) it was bringing back Yoshi Inaba, a former senior executive, to revamp its North American operations, a person familiar with the matter has said.

Inaba, who was credited for laying the groundwork for Toyota's fast growth in the US over the past several years, left the company in 2007 and it is highly unusual for Toyota to bring back an executive who had left the company, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) noted.

No statements to that effect were posted on Toyota's Japanese or North American websites at 12.30GMT (21.30 Tokyo; 4.30PST).

The expected announcement follows Toyota's move last month to name founding family member Akio Toyoda, 52, to be its next president, pending shareholder approval in June.

People familiar with the matter told WSJ Toyoda was tapping Inaba, 62, after initially having approached him earlier last year. The scope of his responsibility in North America was not immediately clear but Toyoda was expected to ask Inaba to focus on overhauling Toyota's sales network in the US, one of the most critical business operations Toyota has to revamp as it grapples with plunging in sales amid the global economic downturn, the sources said.

A person close to Toyoda said that in addition, there was a possibility that Inaba might also be asked to oversee the company's other operations, including manufacturing and product development, as chairman of Toyota North America.