CARY, N.C. — SAS is relocating its international headquarters operation to Cary from Germany, a company spokesman confirmed Friday.

The move is coming at the urging of Mikael Hagstrom, who was named the top international executive for SAS earlier this week, said Pamela Meek, director of external communications for SAS. Hagstrom is executive vice president in charge of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific operations.

How many people will be affected by the move is not yet known, Meek said. A number of jobs will be created at the company’s headquarters in Cary, but the specific increase is not yet clear, Meek added.

“With him will come the related operation, but we don’t know yet how many people will be coming,” Meek said. “We will be assessing any redundancies and which positions need to be relocated here.”

Members of the international headquarters staff in Heidelberg, Germany will be given the opportunity to apply for other jobs within SAS, Meek added. The 360 people based there who focus on sales in Germany will not be affected, Meek said. She pointed out that the Heidelberg staff is actually in the process of hiring additional people.

Hagstrom, a 16-year SAS veteran, wants to be closer to SAS’ top management team, including Jim Goodnight, the firm’s billionaire majority owner and chief executive officer, Meek explained.

“This really is about evolving the business for the way the market is changing,” Meek added. “Mikael wanted to be in the executive suite for headquarters access to his colleagues.”

Hagstrom replaced Art Cooke, who recently retired. Cooke, who worked at SAS for 26 years, directed the creation of SAS’ international operations.

Overseas sales account for 54 percent of SAS’ revenues, which are expected to reach $2 billion this year.

Hagstrom’s move is part of a larger SAS plan to put overseas executives closer to their customers, Meek said. For example, the appointment of regional vice presidents will put less emphasis on country-specific operations and help SAS work more closely with enterprise companies whose operations span several different countries, she added.

Meek cited as an example that the SAS general manager in Italy was recently named to vice president for southern European operations.

“The (Heidelberg) operation was set up originally to incubate subsidiaries in Europe and to provide support,” Meek added. “Our European operation is very mature now. It doesn’t require the level of support it did years ago, so any kind of international headquarters function or operation can easily be performed from Cary.”

SAS now has operations in more than 50 countries. Some 4,000 employees work in the Asia-Pacific and EMEA operations.

“SAS has had a global presence for more than 25 years but the importance of global integration has never been greater,” Hagström said in a statement after his promotion. “We are driving large global enterprise deals as companies begin to adopt enterprise intelligence platforms for business decision making. Both direct and indirect channels are increasingly becoming important as SAS continues to expand its footprint in the software market.”

Hagstrom joined SAS Sweden in 1989. He has held various managerial positions over the years and directed the restructuring of the SAS Norway office in 1998. Hagstrom received a master’s of science degree in industrial automation engineering and administration.