After initially appearing to be excited by the prospect of a merger with Fiat Chrysler, Renault is now slow-playing its hand as its board delays a decision about merger talks.
Renault’s board said Tuesday after meeting at its headquarters near Paris that it will meet again Wednesday to “continue to study with interest” Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ merger offer, the Associated Press reported.
The delay may come from concerns about the deal from the French government – Renault’s largest shareholder – as well as several unions.
“Let’s take the time to do things well,” said Bruno Le Maire, France’s economic minister. “We want this merger, but we don’t want it under just any conditions.”
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Le Maire said the government wants a seat on the merged company’s board and a joint headquarters in France. A Renault-Fiat Chrysler merger would produce the world’s No. 3 carmaker, after Volkswagen and Toyota, and manufacturing 8.7 million vehicles annually.
In addition to the sudden chill on the process by Renault, Nissan management continues to look at any possible deal with a raised eyebrow. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said in a statement Tuesday that the plan would “significantly alter” the structure of Nissan’s longtime alliance with Renault.
Nissan plans to analyze its contractual relationship with Renault to ensure it can protect the company’s interests. However, he did offer a little ray of hope, suggesting that adding FCA to the alliance could create new opportunities for collaboration and synergies.
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Almost since the moment the partnership was formed following the U.S. side of the company’s bankruptcy in 2010, Fiat Chrysler has been searching for additional partners, though its efforts were previously rebuffed by automakers including General Motors and Volkswagen.
But, on May 27, FCA signaled its search may finally have yielded results, revealing it had been in talks for months with Renault and releasing a proposal that would lead to a merger-of-equals.
“This should be seen as a friendly approach to merger between two like-minded companies,” a ranking source involved in the negotiations, asking not to be identified by name due to the sensitivity of the talks, told TheDetroitBureau.com at the time.
(For more about this potentially “transformative” merger, Click Here.)
If the existing Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance were to remain intact, the group would collectively top industry leader VW by nearly 50%. Last year, the Alliance sold nearly 10.8 million vehicles, missing the sales crown by less than 100,000 cars, trucks and crossovers.