Chrysler Poaches Toyota's Top U.S. Executive

James Press was president and COO of Toyotal Motors of North American

Chrysler LLC announced Sept. 6 that it had poached a top executive, James Press, from its Japanese arch-rival Toyota as it seeks to re-energize its operations. Press, a veteran auto industry executive, was formerly the president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motors North America and had worked for the Japanese auto giant for 37 years.

Chrysler said Press will be charged with overseeing the vehicle maker's North American sales, international sales, global marketing, product strategy and service and parts operations. The newly minted Chrysler executive also gains a seat on Chrysler's board of directors and will also be appointed to an executive position at Cerberus Capital Management.

Chrysler was taken over last month by Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm headed by former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, in a $7.4 billion deal with German auto group DaimlerChrysler. The company is vying to shore up its management ranks in a bid to improve its performance. The newly private group appointed Robert Nardelli, the former chairman of Home Depot, as its chief executive officer last month.

Press will report to Nardelli in his new job as Chrysler's vice chairman and president. "One of the most successful executives in the history of the auto industry has joined our leadership team at the New Chrysler," Nardelli said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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