Abe, Macron discuss Nissan-Renault alliance during talks

PARIS, Kyodo - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the alliance between Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA during their talks on Tuesday, officials of the two countries said.

The issue was raised during the summit in Paris after Renault, of which the French government is the biggest shareholder, recently proposed a merger with Nissan, although the Japanese automaker rejected it.

“It’s important to maintain a stable alliance and strengthen it in a way that’s acceptable to the parties involved,” Abe was quoted by a Japanese official as saying during the talks.

A French government official said the two leaders agreed to respect the partnership.

The merger proposal was made in mid-April, according to a source close to the matter. The French government offered a similar suggestion in January after the alliance was rocked by the arrest of its then top executive Carlos Ghosn in November, another person familiar with the matter said earlier.

The request was made during talks between French and Japanese officials and reflects Macron’s desire, the person said at the time.

Renault is seeking to cement stronger ties with Nissan, while some Nissan executives view the partnership structure as unfair. Talk of a possible merger or a review of the capital structure between the two automakers remains a potential source of tensions.

Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, which has a 15 percent stake in the French peer without voting rights.

The Japanese automaker sold 5.65 million vehicles worldwide last year, roughly 1.5 times more than Renault, and contributes about half of the French automaker’s net profit.

Ghosn, who led Nissan for nearly two decades and was CEO and chairman of Renault, said earlier this month in a video message that “a few executives” at Nissan felt threatened about the autonomy of the company due to a possible merger with Renault. (Kyodo)

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