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Like a practitioner of the Japanese art of kabuki, Emmanuel Macron’s administration is going through some elaborate dance steps to try to shape the future of the Renault-Nissan carmaking alliance. The French president wants to protect the jobs of his citizens, as well as taxpayer money and France’s credibility as an industrial investor. It’s been an incredibly clumsy performance.

France controls 30 percent of the voting rights in Renault SA and would like to tempt Nissan Motor Co. into a full-blown merger to heal the rift exposed by the downfall of Carlos Ghosn, the former Renault boss and architect of the two companies’ alliance. Nissan is having none of it. According to Bloomberg News, the Japanese company rebuffed the idea in April and remains opposed. Tokyo’s view seems to be that the alliance already has the benefits of scale and cost savings, and a merger wouldn’t add much.

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