Renault, Nissan share 'real desire' to make alliance
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[January 16, 2020] By
Sarah White and Gilles Guillaume
PARIS (Reuters) - Renault <RENA.PA>
Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said on Thursday there was a "real
desire" within the top ranks of both companies for its alliance with
Nissan to succeed, dismissing suggestions the partnership was on the
Turmoil within the Franco-Japanese alliance, long dogged by internal
rivalries, deepened following the November 2018 arrest in Tokyo of its
architect and long-time boss Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial
crimes, which he denies.
Attempts to restore calm were dealt a fresh blow by Ghosn's dramatic
flight from Japanese justice and a series of no-holds-barred allegations
he has made from his refuge in Lebanon, including that he was the victim
of a plot to oust him and that the alliance is now a "masquerade".
Nissan <7201.T> has vigorously rejected Ghosn's stance, while both the
Japanese firm and Renault have tried to rubbish suggestions their two
decades old partnership is falling apart.
"We have a board overseeing the alliance which is made up of people who
are all extremely in favor of the alliance," Renault Chairman Senard
told a briefing with reporters.
"There is a common desire to associate our strategic plans and a real
desire to make this alliance a success," he added, dismissing a report
that Nissan was examining scenarios for a possible future outside of the
alliance as "fake news."
The 66-year-old declined to comment on anything related to Ghosn,
adding: "I only think about the future."
Renault shares were down 2% by 1123 GMT, underperfoming the broader auto
sector which was down on news that Washington has threatened to impose
tariffs on European car imports due to Europe's stance on Iran.
Renault's French rival and Peugeot maker PSA Group <PEUP.PA> also gave a
flavor of some industry headwinds, reporting a 10% fall in its global
sales last year as Chinese demand tanked.
Renault is due to publish its 2019 global sales on Friday.
(GRAPHIC: Renault and Nissan shares underperform:
Analysts see Renault-Nissan's cost-saving alliance as vital to both
companies as the car industry battles a slowdown and huge investments in
cleaner vehicles and automated driving, particularly as rivals PSA and
Fiat Chrysler <FCHA.MI> are merging to help meet these challenges.
[to top of second column]
Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard attends a Renault, Nissan and
Mitsubishi chiefs' joint news conference in Yokohama, Japan, March
12, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Renault held ultimately unsuccessful talks to combine with Fiat Chrysler last
year, which Ghosn described at a Beirut news conference as a huge missed
Senard, who chairs the alliance's operating board, said on Thursday that once
the partnership has been rebooted, other firms might potentially want to join.
The executive, who used to run tyre maker Michelin, has become the de facto
senior figure in Renault and Nissan's alliance, though without Ghosn's
commander-in-chief aura, which had helped hold it together.
While that is partly deliberate - both parties are keen to avoid another
strongman situation and created a four-member operating board to oversee the
alliance - Senard will now have to show he can push through new joint projects.
He declined to give details of these beyond saying potential cost savings could
be substantial, and that the alliance's board would meet soon to decide on its
The meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30, a source close to Renault said.
The firms are meanwhile finalizing a management revamp, with Renault close to
appointing a new CEO after ousting Ghosn-ally Thierry Bollore in October. A new
CEO started at Nissan in December.
Luca de Meo, who recently stepped down as the head of Volkswagen's <VOWG_p.DE>
Seat brand, is seen as the frontrunner for the Renault job, although a
non-compete clause in his contract is proving a problem, sources have said.
Interim CEO Clotilde Delbos is also in the frame.
Senard said shaking up the shareholder structure in the alliance was not a
priority for either side.
Renault, which is part-owned by the French state, has 43% of Nissan, while the
Japanese firm has 15% of the French carmaker, with no voting rights attached - a
structure that has caused friction.
(Reporting by Sarah White and Gilles Guillaume; Additional reporting by Matthias
Blamont; editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle)
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