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Nissan in talks to acquire stake in Renault
March 09, 2018
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LONDON/GENEVA: Renault and alliance partner Nissan are discussing plans for a closer tie-up in which the Japanese carmaker would acquire the bulk of the French state’s 15 per cent Renault holding, people close to the matter told Reuters.

The carmakers are in talks with government officials over proposals by Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn that would see Paris give up influence at Renault and the French carmaker relinquish control over Nissan, according to three sources.

But any deal still faces significant hurdles - not least its extreme political sensitivity in France —and has yet to win government approval, they said. To do so, it must balance French and Japanese interests, avoiding the appearance of a takeover.

“Any discussion about a share transaction involving Renault, Nissan or the French state is pure speculation,” Renault-Nissan spokesman Jonathan Adashek said. The alliance “has no plans to change the cross-shareholding ratio of its member companies”, he added.

French government officials did not return calls and messages seeking comment.

Renault is being advised by BNP Paribas and Nissan by Nomura on the planned stake sale, which would happen either as part of a broader Renault-Nissan combination or as a “stepping stone” on the way to one, the sources said. The banks did not respond to requests for comment.

Ghosn has also proposed an interim structure that would see management of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors overseen by a Dutch foundation as a prelude to their integration as a global automotive group based in Amsterdam, sources said.

Renault shares rose sharply on the news, and were 8.2 per cent higher at 96.73 euros as of 1604 GMT.

The Renault-Nissan alliance, underpinned by cross-shareholdings, has wrestled intermittently since its 1999 inception with plans for full mergers that have foundered on objections from France, Renault’s biggest shareholder.

But with Ghosn, the alliance’s main architect, now beginning his final term as Renault CEO, the government has been pressing for a tie-up to secure the future of Renault-Nissan, the world’s largest carmaking group by sales last year.


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