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GM hires Infiniti chief to runs its Cadillac brand

Johan de Nysschen, President, Infiniti Motor Company Ltd., speaks next to a Q 50 Eau Rouge sedan after it was unveiled during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

TOKYO/DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Friday it has hired Johan de Nysschen, chief of Nissan Motor Co's <7201.T> Infiniti premium brand, to run its Cadillac division.

He joins the U.S. automaker on Aug. 1 as president of the luxury brand and executive vice president at GM, after two years at the Japanese carmaker. The automaker said earlier on Friday that his first day would be Sept. 1.

De Nysschen, 54, will report to GM President Dan Ammann, who cited the executive's experience with Volkswagen's Audi luxury brand. "Johan brings to our company vast experience in the development and proper execution of luxury automotive brands," Ammann said in a statement.

De Nysschen said the Cadillac brand has strong recognition and has made progress on improving its product portfolio.

De Nysschen, a South African, has submitted his resignation and will be leaving Nissan this month to go to the United States, Infiniti spokeswoman Karin Zhang said.

Andy Palmer, Nissan's chief planning officer and Infiniti's chairman, will be taking over as president of the premium brand until Nissan finds a successor to de Nysschen, Zhang said.

Automotive News, citing sources, earlier on Friday said GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, planned to hire de Nysschen.

De Nysschen, who worked at Audi for 19 years before joining Infiniti in 2012, was leading the brand's efforts to revamp its design to boost sales as it struggled to establish its position in the world's competitive premium market.

He aimed to boost Infiniti sales to half a million cars a year in the next four to five years, nearly triple the 180,000 vehicles it sold in the year ended in March 2014.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota in Tokyo and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Steve Orlofsky)