Andy Palmer, the British right-hand man to Nissan’s global leader Carlos Ghosn, has dramatically resigned from the Japanese company to take up the top seat at Aston Martin.

Palmer left his job as chief planning officer with Nissan (global sales in 2013: 5 million) with immediate effect this week, and is now serving an interim period before becoming CEO at Aston Martin (global sales in 2013: 4200).

By automotive industry standards, it’s a huge shock move: 51 year old Palmer was a hotly-tipped contender for the top seat at Nissan once 60 year old Ghosn decides to retire from the Japanese giant (although he has given no indication he’s preparing to do this any time soon).

For Aston Martin, Palmer’s recruitment is being seen by analysts as a massive vote of confidence in the company’s future. The Gaydon, Warwickshire firm has been without a CEO for more than a year now, but in recent months has secured a technical partnership with Daimler/Mercedes-Benz – and the German firm has slowly and quietly been upping its stake in Aston Martin recently too; it now owns 5% of the firm.

Huge investment has been secured to develop the next generation of Aston Martins, but there have been longer-term doubts about its plans because of the lack of a big-name CEO. Palmer’s recruitment is about as big as they come and instantly raises the stock of the firm considerably.

In a statement, the shareholder board of Aston Martin said: “We’re delighted that Andy will join us as our new CEO at this important time at Aston Martin.

“Andy’s wealth of experience on the global automotive stage in marketing and sales, engineering and technology, and luxury and brand management will be instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward through its most significant and ambitious period of investment to date.”

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