(Adds Dassas’ successor as team head in last paragraph)
By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia auto correspondent
TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co (7201.T), Japan’s third-biggest automaker, named Renault SA’s (RENA.PA) Alain Dassas as its chief financial officer, filling a position that had been vacant for more than four years.
Dassas, a finance expert who heads Renault’s Formula One Team, will take his new role on Sept. 17, Nissan said in a statement. He will report to Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Nissan and Renault, which owns 44 percent of the Japanese company.
The Tokyo-based automaker has not had a chief financial officer since June 2003, when Thierry Moulonguet, seconded from Renault in 1999, returned to the French company where he currently serves as the top finance executive.
By filling the position, Nissan hopes to improve its communications with financial markets, which have been punishing its shares as sales and profits fell short of expectations.
“Alain Dassas’ track record leading financial services for Renault and his depth of experience and knowledge of the global financial markets will be a great asset for Nissan during our next period of growth,” Ghosn said in a statement.
Dassas will join Nissan’s nine-man decision-making Executive Committee and will lead efforts to identify ways to enhance Nissan’s financial performance and shareholder returns.
A 24-year veteran of Renault, Dassas has served in numerous financial, merger and acquisitions and investor relations positions at the Renault group, including as senior vice president of finance.
He has also worked closely with Nissan through his role in the initial alliance agreement between the two automakers, and as a one-time board member at former affiliate Nissan Diesel Motor.
Prior to joining Renault, Dassas spent 10 years at the Chase Manhattan Bank in Paris and New York.
CEO Ghosn has repeatedly said Nissan’s share price is undervalued, after it tanked earlier this year on the automaker’s first profit warning under his eight-year leadership.
So far this year, Nissan’s shares have lost 23 percent, worse than Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T) 16 percent fall and Honda Motor Co’s (7267.T) 19 percent decline. Tokyo’s transport sector subindex .ITEQP.T has shed 14 percent.
For the year to March 2008, Nissan has forecast a 3 percent rise in operating profit to 800 billion yen, after an 11 percent fall last year.
Dassas will be replaced as head of Renault’s F1 Team by Bernard Rey, currently senior vice president, of the CEO Office. As a member of the Renault Management Committee, Rey reports to Ghosn and will keep his current responsibilities.
(Additional reporting by Nathan Layne)
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