* New president credited for Nikon’s digital camera growth
* Current president Kariya to become chairman
* Shares close down 0.8 pct vs Nikkei’s 1.7 pct decline
TOKYO, April 19 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikon Corp 7731.T named Makoto Kimura, who has led the company's growth in the high-end digital camera market, to become its next president in June, replacing Michio Kariya.
Kimura, 62, said Nikon faced an increasingly murky growth outlook for the digital camera market.
“Nikon’s imaging business has been expanding quite steadily over the past 10 years. ‘But can it enjoy the same stable growth for the next 10 years? The answer is no,’” Kimura told a news conference in Tokyo.
“Growth for existing digital camera products will inevitably slow and they are set to move into a phase of saturation. I intend to keep dialogue open for everyone to decide what we should do to achieve further growth despite this trend.”
Kimura, who holds a masters of science in mechanical engineering from Waseda University, joined the predecessor of Nikon in 1974 and rose steadily up the ranks to become head of the imaging business, which handles cameras, in 2002.
Kimura helped Nikon make the transition from the analogue era to establish itself as the No. 2 maker of digital single-lens reflex cameras, high-end models that use interchangeable lenses, ranking behind industry leader Canon Inc 7751.T.
“He is going to be Nikon’s first top executive with expertise in both technology and marketing,” said Kariya, referring to Kimura’s experience as both an engineer and a marketer of cameras.
Kariya will stay on as chairman.
Nikon is also the world's second-largest maker of microchip steppers behind Netherlands-based ASML ASML.AS.
Shares in Nikon closed down 0.8 percent at 2,037 yen ahead of the announcement of the new president, outperforming the benchmark Nikkei average .N225, which fell 1.7 percent.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mariko Katsumura; Editing by Nathan Layne
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