JAPAN [updated 14:00GMT]: Nissan Motor names overseas sales head as new COO

By just-auto.com editorial team | 21 February 2005

Nissan Motor Co. (NMC) on Monday named a marketing expert in charge of overseas sales to become chief operating officer, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

NMC chief executive Carlos Ghosn said Toshiyuki Shiga, 51 and a senior vice president, was chosen for his ability to continue the turnaround the automaker has achieved under the alliance with Renault announced in 1999.

Ghosn reportedly added that Shiga possesses a knack for teamwork, communicates well with people of diverse backgrounds and has solid ambitions for the company.

AP noted that Ghosn will also serve as chief executive of Renault from this spring, as well as continuing as NMC's president and chief executive.

According to the report, Ghosn said Shiga, who will also head Nissan's Japan operations and global sales, must make sure Nissan doesn't backslide into its old ways and ensure that his promotion to COO marks a smooth transition in leadership. "It is seamless - no bumps, no problems, no mistakes," Ghosn reportedly said.

The Associated Press said that, after Ghosn becomes chief executive at Renault, replacing Louis Schweitzer, he will spend about 40% of his time taking care of Nissan affairs, 40% for Renault and the rest for other responsibilities such as North American and other overseas markets.

Shiga reportedly said he lived through Nissan's dismal years in the 1990s and then saw it get back on its feet in the last several years, and remains determined not to let Nissan go down again.

"To be honest, I feel I am under tremendous pressure," Shiga told AP. "But I want to work hard to ensure that Nissan's growth stays unquestionable."

Koji Endo, auto analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston Securities (Japan) in Tokyo, told the Associated Press that Ghosn will continue to hold power at Nissan and chose Shiga as a stand-in while Ghosn is out of town.

"He was looking for a yes-man, a loyal messenger boy, who'll do exactly what he decides. In that sense, this was a proper pick," Endo reportedly said, adding: "The bigger question is who is going to succeed Shiga."

The Associated Press noted that Shiga is being picked over several older and senior executives, underlining Ghosn's determination to buck Japanese corporate tradition and instead pursue change and global-style management.

According to a Nissan Europe statement, other appointments announced on Monday include Tadao Takahashi as head of manufacturing, vehicle and powertrain production engineering, supply chain management and information systems.

Hiroto Saikawa was named chairman of the automaker's European management committee and head of purchasing.

Norio Matsumura, currently head of global sales and marketing is to retire from operational responsibilities while Patrick Pelata, currently head of planning and design, and current chairman of the Europe managing committee, will leave Nissan for a new position at Renault.

Pelata will become a non-executive director of Nissan.