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Nissan, facing growing pains, reshuffles management

By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co<7201.T> said Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga would step aside from the No.2 post to a job handling external affairs in a management makeover as the company grapples with quality issues amid an ambitious drive to boost market share.

Japan's second biggest automaker by sales volume said in a statement that Shiga, 60, would become vice chairman. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn will stay on.

Ghosn has set aggressive expansion targets for Nissan to boost both global market share and its operating margin to 8 percent by end-March 2017, but multiple recalls and a sales slowdown in China have a cast shadow over the plan.

Nissan cut its net profit outlook for the year ending March 2014 by nearly 20 percent to 355 billion yen, depressed by a sales slowdown in China and Southeast Asia and by a major vehicle recall it announced in September.

Ghosn will attend an earnings briefing at Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama from 5:30 p.m. (0830 GMT).

"Our new management line-up and regional organisation will ensure the company has the executive team in place to deliver the profitable growth expected from the Nissan Power 88 mid-term plan," he said in a statement, referring to its expansion goals.


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To focus better on issues unique to each region, Nissan said it will also increase its number of regions to six from the current three. Among the changes, China will become an autonomous region and the Americas will be split into North and South Americas.

Nissan has been showing signs of quality issues as it rapidly expands, conducting a series of recalls including one in September targeting nearly 1 million vehicles due to an accelerator sensor flaw.

Nissan's makeover follows a similar shakeup at alliance partner Renault SA's (PAR:RNO.PA - News).

Nissan did not name a new COO, saying the responsibilities would be shared among three executives.

Hiroto Saikawa will become Nissan's de facto No.2, staying on as Chief Competitive Officer to oversee areas including R&D, purchasing, manufacturing and the supply chain, Nissan said.

Executive Vice President Andy Palmer will become Chief Planning Officer, a new post overseeing global sales. Executive Vice President Trevor Mann will become Chief Performance Officer responsible for running regional operations, Nissan said. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)