Renault, Nissan boards approve 'rebalanced' alliance

Renault, Nissan boards approve 'rebalanced' alliance

Renault and Nissan say the overhaul opens a 'new chapter' for their alliance
Renault and Nissan say the overhaul opens a 'new chapter' for their alliance

LONDON - The boards of French automaker Renault and Japanese partner Nissan have approved a major overhaul of their rocky 24-year alliance following months of negotiations, the companies said on Monday.

The carmakers said in a joint statement that they "rebalanced" their relationship, with Renault reducing its stake in the Japanese firm from 43.4 percent to 15 percent, the same size as Nissan's share in its French counterpart.

The agreement includes Nissan taking a stake of up to 15 percent in Renault's new electric vehicle venture Ampere.

The companies also announced joint projects in Latin America, India and Europe for the production of vehicles ranging from pick-up trucks to SUVs and electric vans.

With the deal, the automakers said they "open a new chapter for their partnership".

The Renault board approved the deal on Sunday while Nissan signed off on it on Monday, a week after the agreement was announced.

The deal comes after months of painstaking negotiations and repeated delays, as the two firms sought to reset their decades-old alliance after years of tensions.

The international auto alliance began in 1999, when Renault rescued Nissan from bankruptcy.

They were joined by Mitsubishi Motors in 2016, when Nissan took a 34-percent stake in its struggling Japanese rival.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance was the world's top carmaker by sales in 2018 but has since fallen behind Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai-Kia.

The union was destabilised by the 2018 arrest of Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who claimed the charges against him were intended to prevent him from bringing the Japanese and French automakers closer together.

- 'Renewal' of alliance -

Analysts have described the rebalancing of the deal as a way to build confidence between the two carmakers, particularly after the fallout from the Ghosn scandal.

Monday's statement said the overhaul "paves the way for a renewal and strengthening of the 24-year partnership, creating a new agile spirit and harnessing the pioneering technologies of all three Alliance members".

Renault will not immediately sell the remaining 28.4-percent stake in Nissan, instead transferring the shares into a French trust because their current market value is lower than that registered in Renault's accounts.

They will be sold when it is "commercially reasonable" for Renault, with Nissan having a right of first offer.

In November, Renault announced it would split its operations in two -- Ampere, and a separate subsidiary for petrol, diesel and hybrid cars that will pair up with China's Geely.

But concerns at Nissan about future technology transfers to the Chinese carmaker, as well as details over the sharing of electric vehicle intellectual property, complicated the negotiations.

Under the deal, Nissan will invest up to 15 percent in Ampere, "with the aim to become a strategic investor".

Mitsubishi will also "consider investing" in Ampere, the statement said.

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