Nissan has promoted the head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance's European financing arm to lead the Japanese company's automotive business in the region. Gianluca de Ficchy starts as senior vice president and chairman of the management committee for Nissan in Europe on April 1.
De Ficchy, 47, will replace Nissan Europe Chairman Paul Willcox, who is leaving the company for personal reasons, the automaker said in a statement.
Willcox, 54, told Nissan employees in an email he was leaving to spend more time with his family in the UK. The British executive never relocated his family to Nissan's European headquarters in Rolle, Switzerland, where he has been based since starting as chairman in 2013, a company source told Automotive News Europe.
"He was regularly traveling half way around the world. It takes its toll after a while," the source said.
Italian-born de Ficchy was made CEO of the alliance's Paris-based RCI Bank in 2014. The bank finances sales of cars offered by alliance brands in 36 countries globally, according to the company's website.
De Ficchy joined RCI Bank in 2001 at its Italian branch, rising to group controller in 2004. He switched to working for the FCA Bank in 2007 and rose to the position of CEO as well as head of financial services for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Europe before returning to RCI Bank in 2014.
De Ficchy's position at the RCI Bank will be filled by Frenchman Bruno Kintzinger, currently director of the Eurasia region and CEO of RN Bank, a joint venture between RCI Banque, Nissan and Unicredit in Russia.
Willcox's departure was unexpected. He has worked at Nissan for 26 years, joining the automaker from Peugeot in 1992.
In 2013, he briefly left Nissan to head up the Volkswagen Group's UK operations, but he returned to the company as Europe chairman just four months later. During his Nissan career Willcox also served as head of the automaker's UK business and led European sales and marketing.
Willcox is the latest high-profile departure from Nissan Europe this year after head of sales and marketing Philippe Saillard left in February after just 10 months in the job. Saillard was replaced by Ken Ramirez.