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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 11:15 GMT
Nissan chief gives up US duties
Nissan's new Qashqai model
Nissan has suffered as demand shifts to fuel efficient vehicles
Struggling Japanese carmaker Nissan has announced its chief executive will give up overseeing its US operation.

The changes to Carlos Ghosn's role come as the firm heads for its first annual profit fall in seven years.

The move is intended to create a more effective management structure and strengthen Nissan's ailing domestic and US operations, the firm said.

Under the changes, Hiroto Saikawa, who oversees the European market, will take over the Americas from Mr Ghosn.

'Multiple challenges'

Mr Ghosn will focus on heading Nissan, Japan's third biggest carmaker, and its partner, Renault, from 1 April.

"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," Mr Ghosn said.

Mr Ghosn, known for his success in turning around firms, is under pressure to boost stalled momentum at both Renault and Nissan, following disappointing sales and profits in the past year.

In February, Nissan slashed its annual profit forecast after a 22% slump in earnings in the last three months of 2006.

In contrast, Nissan's rivals reported strong earnings, with Toyota, Japan's biggest carmaker, reporting a 19% rise and Honda a 5% rise in profits in the final quarter of 2006.

Toyota and Honda have continued to perform well in the US with their fuel-efficient vehicles, whereas Nissan has been slower to embrace gas-electric hybrids.

In a further development, Nissan said it would cut production at Japanese plants in Oppama and Tochigi from April to reduce inventory levels.

Nissan declined to provide details of the size of the cuts.


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