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Nissan Cutting Staff at U.S. Headquarters

June 16, 2006|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Nissan Motor Co. expects to cut its North American headquarters staff by as much as 25% as it begins shifting employees this month from Gardena to the Nashville area, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said Thursday.

Nissan North America employed 1,300 managers, professionals and clerical staff at its 40-acre, 13-building complex in Gardena when it announced the move in November. But the automaker will have only "a little more than 1,000" headquarters staff when the move to Tennessee is completed at the end of next month, Ghosn said.

He was in Tennessee to unveil architects' drawings of Nissan's $100-million, 450,000-square-foot North American headquarters, to be built in this affluent suburb about 20 miles south of Nashville and scheduled to open in about two years. Ghosn said the plan to reduce staff came from "a big opportunity" the relocation presented to restructure jobs.

Only about 400 of the employees who worked in Gardena when the move was disclosed are transferring to Tennessee.

Ghosn said the company had hired or made offers to 410 applicants, about 60% of the replacements needed to fill out the headquarters staff.

He said Nissan North America had received more than 42,000 job applications since November, including some from workers at ailing General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

Critics have said the relocation could leave Nissan's North American management staff weakened at a crucial time, as the automaker prepares to launch five new or redesigned models in the U.S. in the next six months.

Ghosn said he was confident that the company would not be hurt despite short-term disruptions. In having the headquarters in the same state as Nissan's main U.S. manufacturing plant and a large engine factory, Ghosn said, "we have practically all the team in one location," improving operations.

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