The Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company has announced the formation of a new strategic business unit, combining the former regions of European Union (EU) and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA).

The new region of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) will be Goodyear's largest in terms of geography and second largest, after North America, in terms of annual sales revenue. Annual combined sales revenue for the two regions in 2006 was $US6.5bn. The change is effective from 1 February.

Chairman and chief executive officer Robert Keegan, said: "While the two former regions are different in terms of approach to the market there are also many similarities which are increasing, especially with the introduction of the new EU member states. This new organisation is structured to accelerate growth and maximise earnings through simplicity, speed and an intense focus on our customers and markets."

Keegan announced the appointment of Arthur de Bok, formerly president, EU, as the president of the new SBU and Michel Rzonzef, formerly vice president sales and marketing, EEMEA, as president of the EEMEA countries.

Keegan also announced the retirement, for family reasons, of Jarro Kaplan, president, EEMEA, after over 38 years. He praised the contribution of Kaplan who had joined the region in 2001 and had steered the business unit to outstanding increases in turnover and profit.