Renault-Nissan denies French state buy out talk


Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 10

The Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co alliance denied a report that the companies are in talks to buy the French state out of its holding in the nation’s automaker in a step toward a possible merger.

“Any discussion about a share transaction involving Renault, Nissan or the French state is pure speculation,” Jonathan Adashek, a spokesman for the alliance, said in an e-mail.

“The alliance is exploring deeper synergies and increased operating convergence, but has no plans to change the cross-shareholding ratio of its member companies,” Adashek said.

Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of the alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, has been relinquishing some day-to-day control over the companies to focus on strengthening their ties so that they might be preserved over the long term.

While a merger is one option toward that effort, this would require the approval of the French and Japanese governments, he said in an interview last week.

The French government’s stake in Renault is not an impediment to a potential merger, Ghosn said.

“I don’t select my shareholders,” he said by telephone. “I have the shareholders that I have — they decide to be here or to get out. I think, frankly, trying to convince them to be here, to grow or to diminish, for me, is irrelevant.”

Ghosn, 63, gave up the role of chief executive officer at Nissan last year.

Renault last month named Frenchman Thierry Bollore chief operating officer, positioning the 54-year-old as Ghosn’s second-in-command and likely successor.

The Reuters report was also denied by a French Ministry of Finance official about the Japanese automaker purchasing most of the French state’s 15 percent stake.

The French government does not want to relinquish its equity ownership because it gives them leverage to maintain Renault jobs, said Richard Hilgert, a Morningstar analyst in Chicago.