French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron recently declared his willingness to “talk again” with Renault chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn, though he maintained the state’s idea of increasing its voting rights in the company.
Ghosn, the long time leader of French automaker Renault and the alliance with Japan’s Nissan, has called for a strategy that would prevent the carmaker from falling under the so-called Florange law passed under socialist president Francois Hollande. The bill would grant to long-time shareholders double voting rights in French companies unless the latter express their direct desire to keep the old rules. This is exactly what Renault’s CEO intends, but the French state looks eager to oppose. The government revealed recently it had moved to amass more shares of the carmakers – driving its holding up from 15 percent to around 19 percent on a temporary basis to ensure the bill to skip the Florange law would not have the needed two-third majority. Macron also commented for Reuters that a letter – as reported last week – was indeed sent to the Renault leader, with the economy minister trying to explain the state’s motives for the strategy – and also claimed there’s no tension between the two, with Ghosn “not as angry as all that”. The executive asked the government to rethink its recent decision, hinting it would break a fragile equilibrium in the alliance with Japanese carmaker Nissan.
The French carmaker’s influence over its Japanese partner has long been a matter of debate. Ghosn is both chairman and chief executive, and Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, while the latter only has a no-voting rights 15 percent reciprocal holding. “I talk all the time with Mr Ghosn. He is not as angry as all that. He has expressed disagreement, but once again … the voting rights we hope to have… after the shareholder meeting are entirely in keeping with the overall balance of the alliance,” commented the French Economy Minister about the ongoing debate over the state’s voting rights and upgraded stake.