The head of BMW has been nominated for one of two new seats on Microsoft’s board of directors, which would make him the first board member at the software giant from outside the United States.

Helmut Panke, chairman of the board of management of Munich, Germany-based BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, was nominated along with a former AT&T vice chairman. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

“Helmut will bring a valuable global perspective to our board,” chairman Bill Gates said in a Thursday news release. “His experience as chairman of one of Europe’s most successful companies will be invaluable.”

Panke’s presence on the board could bolster Microsoft’s standing in Europe amid a four-year European Union antitrust investigation and threat of fines.

The nominations of Panke and Charles H. Noski, former vice chairman and chief financial officer of AT&T, are subject to approval by shareholders at Microsoft’s annual meeting in November.

Microsoft’s eight current directors also were all nominated for re-election.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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