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Nissan says hiring BMW executive Krueger to run luxury Infiniti brand

A logo of Infiniti, carmaker Nissan's luxury division, is displayed on an Infiniti car during the opening of the Nissan global head office in Hong Kong May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A logo of Infiniti, carmaker Nissan's luxury division, is displayed on an Infiniti car during the opening of the Nissan global head office in Hong Kong May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co is hiring BMW executive Roland Krueger to head its luxury Infiniti brand, the Japanese automaker said on Wednesday, as it struggles to establish the second-tier brand in the global premium market.

Nissan had been searching for a new Infiniti chief since July after Johan de Nysschen, a former Audi executive, left the brand to lead General Motors' Cadillac division. Earlier this month, the brand was dealt another blow when Infiniti's chairman, Andy Palmer, who was also Nissan's senior executive, left the automaker to head Aston Martin.

Nissan said it had not determined the starting date for Krueger, a 48-year-old German national who most recently served as a senior vice president at BMW Group. He led BMW's Japan operations from 2008 to 2012.

Krueger, who started his automotive career as a designer, will be tasked with raising Infiniti's global profile and sales to compete with brands like BMW and Volkswagen's Audi, as Infiniti vehicles go through a design revamp.

In the financial year to March, Infiniti sold 180,000 vehicles globally, about a tenth of Audi's sales.

Krueger will be based in Hong Kong at Infiniti's headquarters and will report to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, the automaker said. It was not immediately clear when he would end his current role at BMW.

Krueger started his career as an interiors and exteriors designer at Mitsubishi Motors Corp in Europe then moved on to Daimler's Smart brand before joining BMW in 1998.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Stephen Coates)