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Ghosn mulling changes to Nissan-Renault structure

Staff Report, Bloomberg

Nissan Motor Co. confirmed Tuesday that Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, is thinking about reviewing the cross-shareholding arrangement between the Japanese and French automakers.

Ghosn was quoted in an interview with the Nikkei business daily published Tuesday that “all the options are open,” including revising the capital alliance between the Japanese and French automakers. A Nissan spokesman confirmed the quote.

Renault SA currently holds 43 percent of Nissan’s shares, while the Japanese carmaker has a 15 percent stake in its French counterpart. Nissan also holds a 34 percent share of Mitsubishi Motor Corp.

The alliance announced last September that the three automakers will accelerate collaboration on common platforms, powertrains and technologies for “next-generation” vehicles such as autonomous driving and connected cars, aiming to double annual synergies to €10 billion (around ¥1.3 trillion) over the next six years.

Renault shares jumped as much as 1.6 percent in Paris after Ghosn, who is chairman of both automakers, said in an interview that he wants to find a solution by 2022. It was reported in March that Nissan and Renault were in talks to merge under a single stock to position the automakers for vast changes in the car industry.

Ghosn was quoted as saying he wouldn’t discard any option and is not privileging any either, although some are more probable than others because of what he called sensitivity.

Forging a single company from the French and Japanese brands would feed a growing trend toward consolidation in the global auto industry, which is grappling with an unprecedented shift toward electric and shared cars.

Chinese auto entrepreneur Li Shufu, who owns Volvo Cars and just bought the largest stake in Daimler AG, penned an op-ed Sunday calling on manufacturers to increase the use of shared platforms.

Meanwhile, the pending exit of longtime Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief Sergio Marchionne is expected to put the Italian-American automaker in play.

While there is much to gain from unifying them, obstacles remain. The French government is the biggest shareholder in Renault. It was reported in March that Ghosn is driving the negotiations and would run the combined entity.