updated 3/8/2006 5:35:52 PM ET 2006-03-08T22:35:52

Nissan Motor Co.’s top North American executive said Wednesday that he will retire from the company July 1, a month before Nissan moves its North American headquarters from Southern California to Tennessee.

Jed Connelly, 60, said the upcoming move wasn’t the reason for his decision. Connelly was intending to move to the Nashville area until February, but decided in the last 30 days that he should retire instead.

“It just seemed like a really good transition time,” said Connelly, who is senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America. “It seemed like the best, most logical thing to do, and it looked like the cleanest thing for the company.”

Connelly will be succeeded by Brad Bradshaw, who now is vice president and general manager of Nissan North America.

Connelly said the company expects around half its 1,300 employees to make the move from Gardena, Calif., to its new headquarters in suburban Nashville. Employees have until April 1 to tell the company their decision and must move by Aug. 1.

Eighty percent of the company’s North American executives — or 47 of 60 — have committed to moving, Connelly said.

Connelly joined Nissan in 1989 as a national direct marketing manager for the Infiniti division. He left in 1994 and rejoined the company in 1998.

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