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Nissan President and Chairman Carlos Ghosn   © Reuters

Nissan's Ghosn shifts from CEO to 'guardian of alliance'

In handing reins to Saikawa, industry icon seeks 'change with continuity'

| Japan

TOKYO -- Carlos Ghosn will step down as Nissan Motor's president and CEO, effective April 1, the automaker said on Thursday. Co-CEO Hiroto Saikawa will take his place, becoming the company's first new top leader in 17 years.

Ghosn will stay on as chairman with representation rights, and continue to oversee a group that also includes French automaker Renault and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, in which Nissan acquired a 34% stake last year.

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