French PM says opposed to Renault, Nissan merger


Following a week of mounting tensions over the role of the state in automaker Renault, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Sunday he is opposed to a full merger of Renault and Nissan, but wants to “preserve the alliance.”

“What we want is to preserve the alliance, we don’t want a merger. The state fully plays its role as a shareholder . . . and at the same time we have confidence in the managers of Nissan and Renault,” Valls told reporters.

The French government owns a 19.7 percent stake in Renault, but Valls said the government remains open to reducing its holding.

“Tomorrow (the state) could lower its share. We want the alliance between Renault and Nissan to endure, to be always as dominant as it is,” he added.

The government upped its stake in Renault from 15 to 19.7 percent early this year.

He said this had proved to be a positive step given the “crisis of confidence” in the auto industry following revelations that Germany’s Volkswagen cheated on emissions tests.

Nissan, which has been a partner of Renault since 1999, had voiced its concerns about the increasing stake of the French government.

Rumors have circulated that Nissan wanted to renegotiate the terms of the partnership, in particular to give it voting rights on Renault’s general assembly.

Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, while one of its subsidiaries controls 15 percent of its French partner.