Nissan's Ghosn to make Brexit investment decision by end of year

Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:28am EDT
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By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) - Japan's Nissan (7201.T: Quote) will decide by the end of the year whether to build its new Qashqai SUV model at Britain's biggest car plant, a source told Reuters, after CEO Carlos Ghosn met Prime Minister Theresa May to seek reassurance over the impact of Brexit.

Just weeks after telling Britain that he could scrap new investment unless he got a guarantee of compensation for costs related to Brexit, Chief Executive Ghosn held talks with May in her Downing Street residence in central London.

Businesses have been concerned that Britain is headed towards a "hard Brexit", which would leave it outside the European single market and facing tariffs of up to 10 percent on car exports.

Nissan, which made nearly one in three of Britain's 1.6 million cars last year, already builds the Qashqai sport utility vehicle at its Sunderland plant in northern England. The time it takes to bring a new car into production means Nissan needs to decide on the location of its next generation model soon.

"The decision-making process is in the next few weeks and months with a decision expected before the end of the year," a company source told Reuters on Friday, adding that the location might not be announced until early next year.

The source also said that a further meeting between May and Ghosn had not been scheduled but that senior Nissan and government officials would continue meeting in the coming weeks.

After speaking to May, Ghosn did not disclose whether the issue of compensation had been raised.

"I am confident the British government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business," said Ghosn, nicknamed "le cost killer" for slashing expenditure at French carmaker Renault (RENA.PA: Quote) which he also heads.   Continued...

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan, leaves 10 Downing Street after meeting Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Britain, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Hannah McKay