According to a report from persons familiar with the matter that talked to Reuters, Japan’s second largest automaker – Nissan – will try to fend off Renault’s control via stake acquisitions in the French automaker.
The French state is today Renault’s largest stakeholder after secretly amassing a larger holding ahead of a vote that would have been able to downplay its position. A power struggle has arisen between the government and Renault-Nissan alliance chief executive officer Carlos Ghosn – which is also the boss of both companies separately. According to government and company sources, a three page document sent to the French government has the Japanese automaker asking for an equal alignment of the companies in taking joint decisions, with “better balanced” cross-shareholdings of 25-35 percent and other deep modifications of the 16-year-old alliance. Renault now has a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan and the controlling vote in their Dutch-registered Renault-Nissan BV management structure. Nissan meanwhile only has a 15 percent stake in Renault, which doesn’t grant it voting power.
The crisis triggered by the surprise April move of Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron raising France’s stake in Renault from 15 to almost 20 percent – with managers informed just hours ahead of the transaction – is a new low point in the relationship between Ghosn and the French government and poses a massive threat to an automotive partnership long hailed as one of the few successful examples in the industry. The new proposal, under French and Japanese law – of 25 to 30 percent cross-shareholdings – would rebalance the situation with Nissan turning instead as Renault’s largest shareholder and the French carmaker having no similar power when Nissan took decisions.