A top-level Indian-origin executive who was in-charge of auto-maker Ford Motor's North American operations, Raj Nair, has left under a cloud and has been replaced by another, Kumar Galhotra, the company announced Thursday.
Nair, who was the President for North America and Executive Vice President, quit after an internal investigation "determined certain behavior by Nair was inconsistent with the company's code of conduct," Ford said in a statement.
"We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration," said Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett.
Nair apologised for his conduct in a statement distributed by the company saying: "I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles" of the company.
Ford did not provide details of what he had done that led to his ouster.
The Detroit Free Press quoted company officials as saying "the shakeup shocked the investor community and stunned employees".
Galhotra, 52, who will take over as Group Vice President and President for North America on March 1, will be responsible for leading all aspects of Ford's North American business, the company said.
"Kumar is an incredibly talented executive with a special feel for product and brand," according to Jim Farley, the President for global markets. "Kumar is the right person to lead our North American business to new levels of operational fitness, product and brand excellence, and profitability."
According to Ford, Galhotra, who has been with the company for 29 years, became the company's chief marketing officer since last year. He also headed Ford's Lincoln line of cars, "revitalizing the luxury brand's model lineup," Ford said.
Galhotra, who grew up in India, was previously Vice President of engineering and between 2005 and 2008, also worked at Mazda's headquarters in Japan.
Nair, 54, took over the North American operations only in June last year, according to the company.
Prior to that he was Executive Vice President for product development and Chief Technical Officer having global responsibility for all aspects of the company's design, engineering, research and product development.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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