After months of dancing around the possibility of Nissan Motor and Renault SA merging in some form, Nissan rejected Renault’s offer enter in to merger talks.
Renault’s proposal is that the two companies would form a holding company, and each company would own about a 50% stake. Each company would have equal board representation, according to Bloomberg News. The new company would be headquartered on neutral ground outside France or Japan, potentially Singapore.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told Renault CEO Thierry Bollore and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Nissan wasn’t interested in a full merger at this point, the Financial Times reported. Saikawa has been beating the drum for Nissan to gain more control in the current partnership.
Renault owns 43% of Nissan while Nissan just 15% of Renault. The French automaker also control the seats on the board of directors for the Alliance. With Nissan now the larger company, he’s looking to make some changes.
(Nissan slashes profit predictions — again. Click Here for the story.)
That position will take a hit when Nissan reports earnings on May 14, the automaker will earn less than Renault on a dollar basis for the first time since both posted losses in 2009. Renault reported 3 billion euros, or $3.4 billion in operating profit for the latest year. When Renault first took a stake in Nissan in 1999, the French automaker was more profitable than Nissan. Nissan will come in at $2.8 billion.
The move comes as former Renault-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn fights charges filed by Japanese prosecutors saying that he enriched himself to the tune of $5 million and committed other acts of economic malfeasance against Nissan.
(Click Here to see how “plot and treason” brought Ghosn down, jailed exec says.)
Ghosn, who is free on $4.5 million bail, denies all the charges, claiming he is the victim of “treachery” by Nissan officials who he named in a video. However, his attorneys fearing legal action, edited out that part of the video.
In the meantime, leaders of the two automakers – as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – have been meeting to determine the future of the alliance. The two companies are in much different positions when the alliance was formed 20 years ago. Nissan was teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy while Renault was able to rescue them from it.
(To see more about Ghosn being rearrested on new corruption charges, Click Here.)
The ousted leader, Ghosn, has been critical of Nissan’s management team and how they’ve run the company in his absence. He said in a recent video proclaiming his innocence, that Nissan’s current management is to blame for three profit warnings and a domestic scandal involving improper vehicle inspections since his departure as CEO in 2017, noting the performance of the current leadership is “very sickening.”