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Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it will acquire 13.5 percent of its alliance partner Renault SA through subsidiary Nissan Finance Co.

The transaction, which was agreed to by Nissan and Renault in October, is part of the process of strengthening their strategic alliance, the two automakers said.

The agreement gives Nissan the right to acquire 15 percent of Renault and Renault the right to raise its share in Nissan to 44.4 percent.

According to Nissan, Nissan Finance will acquire 37.79 million shares issued by Renault through a reserved capital increase and will pay a total of 217.5 billion yen.

As the French law prohibits direct cross-shareholding between two firms when stock ownership exceeds 10 percent of the companies, Nissan will obtain Renault stock through its subsidiary, Nissan officials said.

The transaction is expected to be approved Thursday at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting at Renault.

Renault raised its stake in Nissan to 44.4 percent on March 1.

Tire tieup to take time

Bridgestone Corp.’s president said Thursday it would take three to four years to fully restart business with U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. after ties were terminated last year in the wake of tire recalls.

Speaking at a shareholders’ meeting, Bridgestone President Shigeo Watanabe said his company will not shoulder the cost of recalling 13 million tires made by its U.S. unit, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., carried out voluntarily by Ford.

“We are in talks with Ford with a view to restoring our ties,” Watanabe said. “There has been no talk of whether to shoulder the cost of a recall of the 13 million tires and there is no good reason for our company to pay for it.”

In August 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone launched a massive tire recall — mostly on Ford Explorers — after U.S. regulators linked tread separation of the tires and the resulting rollover accidents to 271 deaths and more than 800 injuries in the United States.

Ford also launched its own recall of Bridgestone/Firestone tires.

Bridgestone/Firestone claimed the Ford vehicles were more to blame for the accidents, while Ford argued the Firestone tires were entirely responsible.

As a result, Bridgestone/Firestone severed a nearly century-old partnership with Ford in May.

The tire recall dealt a blow to Bridgestone/Firestone, weighing on profitability at Bridgestone.

Watanabe said he is confident that Bridgestone can rebuild its business in North America even without resuming ties with Ford, as Bridgestone’s sales to Ford account for only 2 percent of its total group sales.

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