New Nissan bid to end Renault control and curb French clout: sources

Wed Dec 2, 2015 8:56am EST
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By Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume

PARIS (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Nissan (7201.T: Quote) has set out new proposals to end parent Renault's (RENA.PA: Quote) control and block French government interference in their alliance, two sources said on Wednesday.

The revised demands aim to defuse a governance row that erupted in April when French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron raised the government's stake in Renault to 19.7 percent from 15 percent to secure double voting rights.

In a document outlining its position, Nissan is seeking limits to state voting rights in Renault as well as written guarantees against intervention in its operations by the French carmaker, which owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, the sources familiar with the matter said, confirming a report in Le Figaro.

Under the new proposals, any breach of the undertakings would free Nissan to buy shares in Renault and cancel their alliance agreement.

The Renault-Nissan alliance and the French government declined to comment.

The standoff between Macron and Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both carmakers, is set to come to a head on Dec. 11 when Renault's board is due to decide on a response to the French government power grab.

Nissan and French officials have been negotiating for two months to resolve the dispute.

In confidential proposals revealed by Reuters, Nissan had threatened steps to end Renault control by raising its own stake in the French carmaker to at least 25 percent and activating voting rights. Nissan currently owns a non-voting 15 percent stake in Renault.   Continued...

A man walks past the logo of Nissan Motor Co. at the company's showroom in Yokohama, south of Tokyo June 23, 2015.   REUTERS/Toru Hanai