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In just the past three months, three senior executives in
The executive exodus signals Toyota Motor Corporation's growing pains overseas. It now sells three-quarters of its vehicles outside
Having its top talent poached by rivals would have been unimaginable for
''This is a new challenge for
The most stunning job hop came from Jim Press, 61, the former head of
Another was Jim Farley, 45, a 17-year veteran and group vice president and general manager of
Deborah Wahl Meyer also jumped to Chrysler to become vice president and chief marketing officer. Meyer, 44, had spent the past six years at
Executive vice president Mitsuo Kinoshita, who oversees personnel and corporate planning at
''We were expecting so much from him in the years ahead,'' he told The Associated Press in
Japanese companies have long been reticent about promoting foreigners. Two exceptions are Sony Corp., which named Howard Stringer, a Welsh-born American citizen, as its chief executive in 2005 and Brazilian-born Frenchman Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive at Nissan Motor Co. following a 1999 management takeover by Renault SA of
Besides questions about the openness of Japanese corporate culture to foreigners, speculation also has been rife the
General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner, for example, received $9.57 million in compensation last year, including salary and stock options. By comparison, the nine board members at Nissan received a combined $21.8 million, averaging $2.4 million each.
Chrysler hasn't commented on Press' compensation, but said it will be tied to the automaker's turnaround performance.
But he pointedly asserted that nationalities don't matter at
''When they were at
Toyoda, the grandson of the company founder, is widely believed to be the heir apparent for the top spot. While the family does not have voting control over the company, the Toyodas, like the Ford family in the
Shigeru Hayakawa, a managing officer who replaced Press, also played down the recent departures.
''This sort of thing happens every day in the
A number of Americans are candidates for a spot in the all-Japanese board, including Jim Lentz, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales in the
''We are not the kind of company that makes personnel moves based on public relations purposes,'' Hayakawa said.
Press has denied his departure reflected unhappiness with
''It was a great challenge and a great opportunity and I couldn't say no,'' he told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
It looks like Press was drawn by the challenge of fixing an American icon like Chrysler, said Tsuyoshi Mochimaru, analyst at Lehman Brothers. Chrysler, which split from DaimlerChrysler AG in August after a buyout by Cerberus Capital Management LP, has been trying to revive its business.