Nissan and Renault close to rebalancing the alliance

Nissan and Renault are close to a “historic” rebalancing of their auto alliance, 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 a reshaping of their partnership for months, with discussions including a reduction of Renault’s large 43.7 percent stake in Nissan.

The pair came together in 1999 and later joined Mitsubishi Motors, but the union has been controversial, especially 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 a signing and an announcement the following week, the source added.

A Nissan spokeswoman declined to comment on “speculation,” but Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun also reported the deal was close to being completed, and Jiji news agency said Renault CEO will be in Japan over the weekend.

Renault is expected to reduce its stake in Nissan to 15 percent, the same size as the Japanese firm’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 in 2018 of Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who claimed the charges against him were aimed at preventing him from approaching the Japanese and French carmakers.

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

Analysts see the rebalancing of the deal as a way to build trust between Nissan and Renault.

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

After the deal, the French manufacturer is not expected to sell its 28 percent stake in Nissan immediately 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.

23 of 2023 AFP

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