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Renault SA of France may exercise an option to raise its stake in Nissan Motor Co. in the near future, Louis Schweitzer, chairman of the automaker, hinted Friday.

“It was said that Renault will acquire immediately a 36.8 percent (share) in Nissan. It was also stated in the same agreement that Renault has an option to go up to a share of 44.4 percent,” said Schweitzer, referring to the agreement signed with Nissan in March.

Schweitzer’s comments came in response to a report that Renault will likely exercise the option to boost its stake in Nissan.

The agreement gives Renault the option to raise its stake to 39.9 percent by 2003 and to 44.4 percent between 2003 and 2004, he said.

Schweitzer expressed hope that ongoing negotiations over the debt of Nissan Diesel Motor Co., a truck and bus affiliate, will be completed successfully by yearend.

When Renault formed a strategic alliance with Nissan, the French automaker also bought a 22.5 percent stake in Nissan Diesel Motor.

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