Business

METI chief and French counterpart affirm support for Nissan-Renault amid rapid industry changes

Kyodo

The Japanese and French economy ministers agreed Monday to support the alliance between Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA in its bid to improve competitiveness in an auto industry rapidly shifting to electrified and self-driving vehicles, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The telephone talks between Hiroshige Seko and French counterpart Bruno Le Maire came as the major auto alliance partners review their capital relationship after the arrest of former Nissan and Renault Chairman Carlos Ghosn last November for alleged financial misconduct.

In a joint press release, the two ministers said they would support the two companies’ discussions and their unified will to maintain and strengthen their cooperative relationship.

The French government is the largest shareholder in Renault, which has a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan. Nissan in turn holds a 15 percent nonvoting stake in the French peer, a capital structure regarded by Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa as unbalanced.

A memorandum of cooperation signed by the two governments said they had “decided to establish a policy dialogue aimed at sharing information, supporting significant transformations of the environment of the automotive industry.”

They will share information regarding autonomous vehicles and automotive batteries, and exchange views toward expanding the use of electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.

The telephone talks followed up on the previous meeting between Seko and Le Maire on June 10 in Japan, where they confirmed their support for the Nissan-Renault alliance.