Renault reportedly wants to restart merger talks with Nissan next year and is even considering a follow-up marriage with another automaker — possibly Fiat Chrysler.
While the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s official goals for 2019 are difficult to pin down, a memorandum of understanding was recently established to improve corporate synergy and reassure the public that members can play nice after the drama-filled arrest of Carlos Ghosn. However, it would seem that the long game still includes mergers.
Earlier this month, top executives from Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi appeared together to prove to the world that the alliance is not in jeopardy. It was known that Ghosn had been advocating for a merger against Nissan’s wishes for years, and many, including the defamed former alliance boss, have speculated that the associated pressures aided in the company acting against him in order to see him brought up on charges.
“We were too much focused on convergence. People should have been more focused on project,” Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa following the most-recent alliance gathering. “We want to change the speed of our operations.”
Hoping to gain some distance from the matter’s darker aspects and assuage investor fears, executives formed a new alliance board led by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. However, the Financial Times has reported that Senard is still interested in solidifying the relationship by merging with Nissan. Apparently, he wants to reopen merger talks with Nissan as soon as possible so he can follow up with another automotive acquisition.
From the Financial Times:
Separate to their consolidation, Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi also intend to announce a new strategic plan as early as the end of this year, which would shelve existing targets to expand combined sales to 14 [million] vehicles by 2022, according to one senior official inside the alliance.
Synergy targets to achieve €10 [billion] in combined savings by 2022 will also be “sidelined” as part of the overhaul, according to people close to the matter.
As part of the review, the two companies are also expected to revamp each of their boards with Nissan adding majority outside directors and Renault reducing the size of its board.
Individuals close to Renault and the French government claim Senard would spearhead the initiative personally. “His first job was to put the house in order,” said one person. “He has done that. Now it’s to stabilize and develop.”
How Nissan will respond is anyone’s guess. Despite the alliance making an effort to give the company more say, Renault still owns 43 percent of Nissan and the French government has a 15 percent stake in Renault (with double the voting rights). Meanwhile, previous attempts by Ghosn to get France to sign off on a prospective merger went rather poorly, according to the outlet.
FCA should be more receptive, as it’s actively looking for a partnership or merger. However, since Fiat Chrysler is second in line, it might take Renault too long to settle things with Nissan — assuming it even can.