Nissan, Renault close to ‘historic’ alliance break-even: source

The Japanese and French giants have been grappling with reforming their partnership for months

Nissan and Renault are closing in on a “historic” rebalancing of their automakers, with a deal likely to be announced in the coming weeks, a source close to the talks said on Tuesday.

The Japanese and French giants have been grappling with an overhaul of their partnership for months, with talks including reducing Renault’s massive 43.7% stake in Nissan.

The pair joined forces in 1999 and were later joined by Mitsubishi Motors, but the union has been controversial, particularly in recent years.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Nissan’s independent directors had “given the green light” to a deal, paving the way for a “historic” deal.

Final details are expected to be worked out at a meeting in Japan on January 26, with the signing and announcement next week, the source added.

A Nissan spokeswoman declined to comment on “speculation”, but Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun also reported the deal was close to completion and Jiji news agency said Renault’s chief executive would be in Japan at the weekend.

Renault is expected to reduce its stake in Nissan to 15%, matching the size of the Japanese company’s stake in its French partner.

Nissan is also likely to invest in Renault’s new electric vehicle business Ampere, although the size of the stake is not yet clear.

If a deal is agreed, it would mark a new chapter in a sometimes rocky union that began when Renault rescued Nissan from bankruptcy in 1999.

The relationship was destabilized by the arrest of Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in 2018, who claimed the charges against him were intended to prevent him from bringing the Japanese and French automakers closer together.

Mitsubishi Motors joined the alliance in 2016 when Nissan took a 34% stake in its struggling Japanese rival.

Analysts see balancing the deal as a way of building trust between Nissan and Renault.

There is also scope for the companies to work together on electric vehicles, given Nissan’s existing technologies and Renault’s greater access to the European market.

After the deal, the French carmaker is not expected to immediately sell the remaining 28% of Nissan shares because the current market value is lower than that recorded in Renault’s accounts.

Instead, the shares will be placed in a trust for sale when prices improve.



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