Business / Corporate

Renault chairman would be 'delighted' to rekindle Fiat deal

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Renault SA Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said he would back a tie up with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV should another opportunity arise to get a deal.

If the project with Fiat “were to come back under conditions that are acceptable for all, I would be delighted,” Senard told French senators late Tuesday at a hearing in Paris, adding that there’s nothing currently “on the table.”

For the moment, any deal is “behind us,” he said.

The Fiat merger proposal was called off in June after French government representatives on Renault’s board refused to sign off on the plan because the carmaker had failed to win the backing of its Japanese partners.

Renault is seeking to reshape its partnership with Nissan Motor Co. after the arrest of their former leader Carlos Ghosn in Japan. The companies were near an agreement on rebalancing their cross-shareholding structure in August, the Yomiuri newspaper reported last week, without saying where it got the information.

The two-decade partnership has been under strain for years, with Nissan seeking to reduce the French carmaker’s influence. Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault, with no voting rights, while Renault holds 43 percent of the Japanese company with votes. The relationship soured after Ghosn was arrested in November on allegations of financial crimes. He has denied all charges.

Earlier this month, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa stepped down following reports raising questions about his pay.

Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi, a 63-year-old longtime Nissan director, has replaced Saikawa, 65, as acting CEO while Nissan’s nomination committee conducts the process of selecting a permanent successor by the end of October.

The six-member nomination committee, which is led by outside director and former senior economy ministry official Masakazu Toyoda and also includes Senard, has narrowed down candidates for a permanent CEO to around 10 from about 100.

The company and Ghosn have both reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, after the U.S. regulator claimed they failed to disclose more than $140 million in pay to the former chairman.