French minister denies attempt to destabilise Renault-Nissan

3rd November 2015, Comments 0 comments

France's economy minister Emmanuel Macron denied Tuesday that there was any attempt from the French state to "destabilise" Renault-Nissan, after the Japanese side of the carmaking alliance expressed concerns.

A row is growing after the French government moved to increase the voting rights it holds in its domestic carmaker, effectively denying the Japanese company a say in how the business is operated.

"We are attached to the Renault-Nissan alliance," Macron said.

He said the alliance was "essential" to Renault's future success, but he recalled that Nissan had been close to bankruptcy when the deal to link the two firms was done 16 years ago.

"Renault took risks and invested its money to support this group. Nissan is doing well today and we should all be happy about that. It's our collective strength," the minister said.

"Let's recall the facts. The (French) state had 40 percent at that point in time and now it has 15 percent. That shows that there is no attempt to destabilise on our part," he added.

In fact, the French state raised its stake in Renault to 19.7 percent this year, disturbing the fragile balance between the two companies and angering Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn.

Nissan's chief competitive officer Hiroto Saikawa said Monday his company had expressed its concerns to both the French and Japanese governments.

"The French state is now having a greater say. From the standpoint of Renault that is a big issue and for us Nissan this is a concern," Saikawa said.

"We want to ensure Renault's autonomy... In that sense, we are totally in line with Renault's board.

"Within this context, we have already explained our concerns directly to the French state and to the Japanese government which understands our concerns."

The Nissan executive said he did not want to comment on "speculation" about the alliance's next move, saying: "We will continue to work to come to a constructive conclusion.

"We will continue talking with the French state."

Under the agreement struck in 1999, Renault owns about 43 percent of Nissan, which in turn holds about 15 percent of the French's automaker's shares, but does not have voting rights.

Reports have suggested that the automakers are in discussions about changing their ownership structure which could include giving voting rights to Nissan.

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© 2015 AFP

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