Nissan would review Renault ties after FCA merger: CEO
PARIS/MILAN: Nissan would carry out a “fundamental review” of its relationship with alliance partner Renault if it accepted a merger proposal from Fiat Chrysler, the Japanese carmaker said on Monday.
The proposal under discussion “would significantly alter the structure of our partner Renault”, Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said in a statement.
“This would require a fundamental review of the existing relationship between Nissan and Renault,” he said, while adding that FCA’s arrival as a new alliance member “could expand the paying field for collaboration and create new opportunities for further synergies”.
FCA is engaged in intensive discussions with Renault and the French government over the US$35 billion merger proposal it pitched last Monday to create the world’s third-biggest carmaker.
The Italian-American carmaker is discussing a special dividend, a French government board seat and stronger job guarantees among possible improvements to secure backing from Paris, Reuters reported on Sunday. The French state is Renault’s biggest shareholder with a 15 percent stake.
FCA and Renault have stressed they want to preserve the Renault-Nissan alliance – already strained by the arrest and ousting of chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is now facing trial in Japan for financial misconduct charges he denies.
Renault owns roughly 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan’s 15 percent reciprocal Renault holding carries no voting rights.
The claimed 5 billion euros (US$5.6 billion) in FCA-Renault deal synergies would depend in part on FCA access to technology jointly owned by Nissan, executives concede.
While Nissan is sensitive about such intellectual property considerations, the Japanese carmaker is optimistic about benefits from a FCA-Renault merger and will “look seriously at supporting them”, a senior executive told Reuters.
Renault had no comment on CEO Saikawa’s statement, company spokesman Frederic Texier said. But a source close to the French carmaker’s board said it could have been worse.
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“If you want to say no, you say no,” he said.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Laurence Frost; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)