Is Renault losing control?
Last weekend the relationship between Renault and Nissan had deteriorated. The French Minister, Bruno Le Maire, is in Japan to soothe things, but it won’t be easy. Meanwhile, rumors say that negotiations between Renault and FCA are restarting secretly.
Jean-Dominique Senard, president of Renault, has enraged Nissan with a letter to his Nissan counterpart, Hiroto Saikawa. It stipulates that the Renault representatives in the board will vote abstention in a proposition reform.
This abstention means that the reform, reorganizing the decision making in three committees to have more transparency, would be blocked, although the Renault representatives had earlier on consented with the reform.
Add to that the fact that Nissan was upset being let out of the discussions between Renault and FCA and being informed very late about it.
Finally, the Ghosn debacle last year and the fact that Nissan still has no say in Renault while the French have one in Nissan, is contributing to this Japanese distrust.
Meanwhile, the French government, 15% shareholder in Renault, has tried to soothe things. The French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, talked to his Japanese counterpart, Hiroshige Seko.
In a joint statement, they reaffirmed their “strongest support” in the Alliance. Le Maire even went as far as considering a lowering of the influence of the French state in Renault. The Japanese have never liked the fact that the French government had a say in their Alliance partner.
Is Senard already questioned?
Coming over from Michelin at the beginning of the year as President of Renault, Senard has angered his Alliance partner already three times now. First, he wanted to have talks on a possible merger Nissan/Renault, which the Japanese refused.
Secondly, he began talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles without the Japanese knowing it, and now he refuses to cooperate on internal Nissan matters. Some analysts are already saying that Senard’s days are numbered at Renault.
The French government, on the contrary, has already re-expressed its full support to Mr. Senard and has also stipulated that the top managers of both companies have to agree as soon as possible.
What about FCA?
While all this is happening, there are rumors that the negotiations with FCA are going on, but very secretly, despite the official withdrawal of FCA’s 50/50 merger proposition.
FCA boss, John Elkann, has sent one of his managers to Nissan to explain the possible deal, and meanwhile, the negotiations seem to continue, despite the avalanche of criticism the Italians (both company and government) have outed these last days against their French counterparts.