Manufacturers Renault and Nissan sign their quasi-divorce

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Production of a Nissan Micra at the Renault plant in Flins (Yvelines), May 6, 2020.

The terms of the new relationship between Renault and Nissan have now been finalized. The Operational Council of the Alliance, the entity through which Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi work together, held a video conference on Thursday January 26, in the morning Paris time and in the afternoon Yokohama time. On Monday January 30, under pressure from the stock market authorities after numerous leaks in the press, the car manufacturers each sent a press release to indicate that the discussions had “reached a major milestone”. Endless, these negotiations have been underway since the spring of 2022. Board meetings are to be held this week and a presentation to financial analysts is scheduled for London on Monday February 6. A city chosen as “neutral ground”: neither Yokohama, headquarters of Nissan, nor Paris and even less Amsterdam, where the former CEO of the Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, had installed the headquarters.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “At Renault, Nissan has become the elephant in the room”

Will this agreement be a new impetus in relations between Renault and Nissan or a divorce that does not say its name? Renault executives Jean-Dominique Senard and Luca De Meo are still trying to convey this evolution of their partnership with Nissan and Mitsubishi as a “strengthening of ties”, a “relaunch” , even if the Frenchman agrees to reduce his stake in Nissan from 43.4% to 15%, the equivalent of Nissan’s stake in Renault. The agreement provides that this cross-shareholding will be capped at 15% in capital and voting rights.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers “At Renault, Nissan has become the elephant in the room”

But on the Nissan side, the tone is quite different, even if we try not to embarrass the French partner. The discussions lasted so long “because it is not so easy to unravel twenty years of partnership”explains a source close to the Japanese manufacturer: “Divorce is always complicated”. Seen from Yokohama, the agreement, which the Japanese government took care to have validated by a letter from Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, at the end of 2022, allows the Japanese group to “regain independence”.

Deprived of voting rights at Renault

In reality, the Nissan teams never really agreed to come under the control of Renault on March 27, 1999, an operation skilfully led by Louis Schweitzer, at the time CEO of the French manufacturer. The Japanese group on the verge of bankruptcy was to be bought by Daimler, a German group which it considered its technological equal, unlike Renault. But Daimler had withdrawn. Even if Nissan then recovered spectacularly under the leadership of Carlos Ghosn, becoming much bigger and more profitable than Renault, mistrust has always been there.

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