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Nissan Looking To End Renault Control Of Alliance Via New Stake Purchase

The ongoing power struggle (of sorts) between the Nissan-Renault alliance head Carlos Ghosn and the French government (the dominant shareholder in Renault) has gotten more interesting as of late — with Nissan apparently having created proposals to acquire a bigger stake in the French company.

The primary goal of the proposal is apparently to rebalance things so that there’s an equal balance of power with regard to joint decisions — and to rebalance cross-shareholdings to 25–35%.

carlos ghosn

As it stands, Renault possesses a 43.4% stake in Nissan, has “the casting vote in their Dutch-registered Renault-Nissan BV management structure,” and, by turn, Nissan possesses a non-voting 15% stake Renault. One should be able to see the potential issues here without too much trouble.

Reuters provides more:

The Nissan demands are a response by 61-year-old Ghosn, CEO of both carmakers, to a surprise April move in which Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron raised France’s Renault stake from 15% to 19.7% — informing Ghosn in a phone call only hours before the transaction took effect.

The stand-off marks a new low in Ghosn’s relationship with the French government. It also threatens the future of an automotive pairing hailed as a rare success story in an industry whose recent past is littered with failed mergers. France’s stake increase, described as temporary, allowed the government to force a permanent doubling of its voting rights through the company’s shareholder meeting by blocking Ghosn’s proposed opt-out from a new law entering force next year.

A retaliatory plan to hand more power to Nissan — by restoring its voting rights in Renault to counter the government’s increased clout — already has the Renault board’s support. French state representatives abstained from the April 16 vote and have since contested its legitimacy, sources said. But the new Nissan proposals, in a September 3 note initialed by Ghosn’s second-in-command Hiroto Saikawa, go much further.

To be clear on the implications here, the proposed 25–35% cross-shareholdings split would mean that (going by Japanese and French law) Nissan would be able to vote “as Renault’s biggest shareholder while depriving the French carmaker of any reciprocal say at Nissan meetings.”

So, a very big shakeup, in other words.

(h/t to “RobStark” on the Tesla Motors Club forum.)

Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.


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