October 22, 2019 / 6:30 AM / 24 days ago

Renault chairman vows to get Nissan alliance back on track next year

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is determined to get the carmaker’s alliance with Japan’s Nissan (7201.T) back on track next year, he said on Tuesday, adding other matters such as a potential tie-up with Fiat Chrysler were less of a priority.

FILE PHOTO: Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard attends a Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi chiefs' joint news conference in Yokohama, Japan, March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The Renault-Nissan partnership was rocked by former alliance boss Carlos Ghosn’s arrest in Tokyo almost a year ago on financial misconduct charges, which he denies.

The two firms are still trying to repair relations, including through recent management overhauls, to focus again on combined efforts to cut costs and invest in new technologies - among the pressing issues thrown into sharp relief by a Renault (RENA.PA) profit warning last week.

“My obsession is for the alliance to take off in 2020,” Senard told France Inter radio.

“If, by 2020, we don’t manage to start extracting ... all the potential of this alliance, I’ll consider it to be a failure, on a personal level and by our teams.”

Senard did not give further details.

But he added that other matters, such as attempting to revive merger talks with Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N), which were abandoned in June, were secondary to the industrial projects Renault and Nissan needed to work on.

“Today, it’s not on the table,” Senard said of a Fiat deal.

He added reducing Renault’s 43.3% stake in Nissan, which could help improve relations, was also not top of his list.

“Nothing can ever be excluded, (but) this is not what we’re focused on,” Senard said.

Senard was parachuted in from tyre maker Michelin in early 2019 to help steady Renault, which is 15% owned by the French state.

Earlier this month, the carmaker ousted CEO Thierry Bollore, a former Ghosn protegee known for having a strained relationship with Nissan, as it tries to wipe the slate clean with its Japanese partner.

“I discovered an alliance in worse shape than I’d imagined ... this takes time to mend,” Senard said.

Renault, which said last week it was reviewing some mid-term targets, is due to release more details about its third quarter performance on Oct. 25.

Reporting by Matthieu Protard, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Gilles Guillaume; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by Mark Potter

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