(Reuters) - SAIC Motor Corp Ltd , China's biggest automaker, plans to promote the head of its passenger car unit to become the firm's new president.
Vice President Chen Zhixin, who heads SAIC's passenger car unit, will become SAIC's president, according to a report by the official Xinhua News Agency quoting an announcement by the Shanghai government. Top officials of state-owned firms are all appointed by China's ruling Communist Party.
SAIC's current president, Chen Hong, will become chairman, replacing 63-year-old Hu Maoyuan, who will retire, local newspapers reported.
A SAIC spokeswoman declined to comment on the personnel changes.
A SAIC official who declined to be identified said the management change had been widely expected.
The management reshuffle comes at a difficult time for Chinese auto brands, which have been losing market share to foreign brands for seven months in a row.
State-owned SAIC, which currently generates about 90 percent of its vehicle sales volume from its joint ventures with General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG, is making heavy investment in its own brands including Roewe and MG.
By the end of 2015, SAIC plans to invest a total of 45 billion yuan ($7.20 billion) into developing its own technology and brands, according to SAIC's website.
Roewe's first model was based on technology from MG Rover while the MG brand was indirectly purchased from the now-bankrupt British carmaker.
The company said in its 2003 annual report that its main tasks in 2014 included deepening the construction of own brands, upgrading its own R&D capability and accelerating the development of core competitiveness.
Last year, SAIC sold 4.7 million vehicles through its joint ventures with Volkswagen and GM, accounting for more than 90 percent of total sales volume.