The chief executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Ian Robertson, has been appointed as sales and marketing director for parent company BMW Group.
Rolls-Royce sales have risen during Mr Robertson's watch
The move makes him the first Briton to join BMW's board of directors, a Rolls-Royce official told the BBC.
Mr Robertson, who used to head up BMW's operations in South Africa, replaces Stefan Krause who will join Deutsche Bank as chief financial officer (CFO).
Mr Krause had in the past been tipped as a possible chief executive of BMW.
"News that the sales and marketing chief is leaving is not going over so well," one trader in Frankfurt said.
Mr Krause had been tipped as a future BMW chief
Two years ago, when long-serving chief Helmut Panke was forced to step down against his will because he had reached BMW's stipulated retirement age for executives, Mr Krause was the company's chief financial officer.
At the time, the company appointed Norbert Reithofer as Mr Panke's replacement, with officials insisting that Mr Krause's time would come.
A year later, in September 2007, Mr Reithofer reshuffled his management board, with sales and marketing director Michael Ganal and Mr Krause swapping jobs.
BMW initially brought Mr Robertson in to head up its Rolls-Royce subsidiary less than two years after it was created as a new company in 2003.
During 2004, the company went through a management crisis after sales of its only model, the Phantom, fell far short of expectations: no more than 300 were sold during the first year, and only about twice that in 2004.
During the company's second year, founding chief executive Tony Gott departed, only for his successor, Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, to be almost instantly poached by Alfa Romeo.
Mr Krause then stepped in as caretaker chief until Mr Robertson's appointment.
Under Mr Robertson, the company saw sales rise to more than 1,000 in 2007, when the company launched its convertible Phantom Drophead Coupe.
Last week, Rolls-Royce launched a hardtop coupe at the motor show in Geneva.
Mr Robertson will remain the chief of Rolls-Royce until a replacement has been identified.
News of Mr Krause's departure came as BMW reported a 6.1% fall in pre-tax profits to 3.87bn euros ($6bn; £3bn) during 2007, when a one-off gain was stripped out of the equation.
Analysts had expected the drop to be sharper.
"The numbers were all right," said the Frankfurt trader.