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Want to Boost Results? Try Hiring a CFO

Japan's Nissan, after four years without one, tries to counter recent difficulties by naming Renault executive as its finance chief.
Stephen TaubSeptember 4, 2007

Nissan Motor Co. finally decided it could use a chief financial officer.

The struggling Tokyo-based carmaker announced it had hired its first in four years: Alain Dassas, who during a 24-year career at Renault SA held numerous finance positions, and is currently president of the Renault Formula One Team.

Nissan’s last CFO, Thierry Moulonguet, left in 2003 for the top finance post at Renault. Since then, chief executive Carlos Ghosn, who is CEO of both Renault and Nissan, has performed Nissan’s finance duties as well.

Dassas, who officially takes over on Sept. 17, will be responsible for financial strategy, treasury, tax, and capital markets, sales financing operations, and investor communications. He will report to Ghosn, and will serve on Nissan’s Executive Committee.

“Alain Dassas’s 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,” said Ghosn. Among the positions Dassas has filled during his Renault career are senior vice president, finance. He was named to head Renault financial operations in 2001, and was named head of the Renault Formula One team in 2006.

Renault and Nissan have had a close relationship since 1999. In addition to having the same CEO, Renault holds a 44.3-percent stake in Nissan, with Nissan owning 15 pecent Renault.

Dassas is no stranger to Nissan, either, having previously worked with the company in his role with the initial 1999 Renault Nissan Alliance agreement. He is also a former board member of Nissan Diesel.

Dassas faces a number of major challenges in his new position. The Wall Street Journal points out that in April Nissan reported its first full-year decline in net earnings in seven years. And according to Bloomberg News, Nissan’s vehicle sales, excluding minicars, have fallen 12 percent in Japan this year due to a lack of new models and an aging population.

Nissan is now investing in new plants in India, Russia, and Morocco as part of a major expansion of its overseas operations.