Renault hits the brakes on Nissan alliance

Darnell Taylor
June 12, 2019

Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa criticized the Japanese automaker's French alliance partner, Renault, on Monday for trying to block changes to strengthen corporate governance following the arrest of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The French government played a major role in the Renault-Fiat split, having sough to postpone talks until after Le Maire's trip to Japan, so as to seek explicit support from Nissan before going forward.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) NV last month stunned the auto world by proposing a merger with Renault that would - together with Renault's Japanese partners Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Co - create a vehicle giant spanning the globe.

Renault is pushing for a full merger between the pair, but there is deep skepticism of the plan at Nissan.

Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) are looking for ways to resuscitate their collapsed merger plan and secure Nissan's approval for that deal, Reuters reported on Monday. "As now proposed, this does not seem to be the case".

"Nissan has received a letter from Renault indicating intention to abstain from voting", Nissan said in a statement.

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The Japanese automaker has always been uneasy over the arrangement, which was strained even further following the November arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the architect and former chairman of the alliance. "The second step will be consolidation - only if all parties are on board", he said.

The tensions have burst into the open with the arrest of Ghosn on financial misconduct charges in Japan - which he and his family see as a plot by some within Nissan to prevent closer integration of the two firms. The French finance minister, who seeks to strike a hard balance between giving autonomy to the companies and pushing a deeper integration between the two, told reporters Sunday that it wasn't "his role" to meet with Nissan's CEO.

The proposal calls for three committees to add outside directors and oversee compensation and audit.

In March a Nissan-appointed outside team recommended the formation of the three committees to improve its corporate governance.

Nissan, which caused Mr Ghosn's downfall when it...

Nissan also appears to have been largely left in the dark on the merger discussions between Renault and Fiat Chrysler, which had attempted to join forces to create the world's third-largest automaker before talks fell apart last week.

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