Toyota to change president in April: report

TOKYO Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:00pm EST

Toyota's Akio Toyoda paints the eye of a Daruma Doll as part of a first steel ceremony, marking the beginning of construction of Canada's first new automobile assembly plant in 20 years, in Woodstock, approximately 100 km west of Toronto , September 21, 2006. REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski

Toyota's Akio Toyoda paints the eye of a Daruma Doll as part of a first steel ceremony, marking the beginning of construction of Canada's first new automobile assembly plant in 20 years, in Woodstock, approximately 100 km west of Toronto , September 21, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/J.P. Moczulski

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp is to promote Akio Toyoda, a founding family scion and executive vice president, to president in April, Japanese daily Asahi reported on Tuesday.

The report, which did not cite sources, comes a day after the world's biggest automaker forecast a first-ever annual operating loss, blaming a relentless sales slide and a crippling rise in the yen in what it said was an unprecedented crisis in its 70-year history.

The change in top management is aimed at improving business performance, Asahi said. Current President Katsuaki Watanabe, who has headed Toyota since June 2005, will become vice chairman, the paper said.

A Toyota spokesman said nothing had been decided.

Automakers around the world face their toughest business environment in recent memory, caught in a sharp reversal of demand as the financial crisis spreads, squeezing credit and consumer sentiment.

Toyota cut its group operating forecast to a loss of 150 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the year to end-March. It made a record profit of 2.27 trillion yen last year.

Toyoda, a grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda, has been responsible for the firm's Japanese and overseas operations.

This is the first time in almost 14 years that a member of the founding Toyoda family would hold the company's presidency, Asahi said.

Toyoda is scheduled to attend a news conference on Thursday in Tokyo to jointly launch a car with Daihatsu Motor Co.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota and Ran Kim, Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

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