No need to lower French government’s stake in Renault: Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment contradicts recent remarks by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire that the government was ready to reduce its 15 percent stake in Renault. (AP)
Updated 27 June 2019
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No need to lower French government’s stake in Renault: Macron

  • Relations have been strained between the alliance members since the shock arrest in November of former boss Carlos Ghosn
  • Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, which in turn holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its French partner

TOKYO: French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday there was no need for the government to lower its stake in Renault and that he wanted the Renault-Nissan alliance to work on strengthening its synergies.
Relations have been strained between the alliance members since the shock arrest in November of former boss Carlos Ghosn, but Macron referred to that as an individual situation that should not have a bearing on their partnership.
“Nothing in this situation justifies changing the cross shareholdings, the rules of governance, and the state’s shareholding in Renault, which has nothing to do with Nissan,” Macron told reporters.
Macron’s comment contradicts recent remarks by Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire that the government was ready to reduce its 15 percent stake in Renault in the interest of bolstering the automaker’s alliance with Japan’s Nissan Motor.
“I wish for the group to maintain its stability concentrating on the essential and that synergies between Renault and Nissan continue to be strengthened,” said Macron, who was in Japan on an official state visit ahead of the G20 in Osaka.
“The future of the group is how it can become leader in electric vehicles and one of the leaders in autonomous vehicles … I think the future is more of a growing integration.”
Despite the French government’s frequent calls for Renault and Nissan to strengthen their partnership, Nissan has been unhappy with what it sees as an unequal relationship and has rebuffed previous suggestions of an outright merger.
Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan which has surpassed its French partner in size since being rescued by it two decades ago. Nissan holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its partner.
Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa said at a shareholders’ meeting this week the Japanese automaker would “postpone discussions” on the future direction of the alliance as it prioritized recovery of its financial performance.


Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

Updated 46 min 46 sec ago
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Japan’s Nissan reportedly to double global job cuts to over 10,000

  • The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May
  • It will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates

TOKYO: Nissan plans to expand job cuts to over 10,000 to help turn around its business, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as profit continues to plunge while the automaker grapples with management upheaval.
The global plan includes the 4,800 job cuts announced in May and will mostly be at factories overseas with low utilization rates, the person said. It will be announced along with financial results on Thursday, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information was still private.
Nissan declined to comment on the job cuts. Its shares ended the day up nearly 1.0 percent.
Analysts expect Nissan to post one of its weakest quarterly performances since the 2008 global financial crisis when it announces its first-quarter earnings on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Nikkei business daily reported the automaker would report operating profit of “several billion yen” for the quarter, around a 90 percent drop from 109.1 billion yen a year earlier. Analysts estimate a decline of 64 percent.
The job cuts, exceeding 7 percent of Nissan’s 138,000-strong workforce, come as Nissan struggles to improve dismal profit margins in the United States, a key market where former Chairman Carlos Ghosn for years pushed to aggressively grow market share during his time as chief executive.
Years of heavy discounting to grow sales in the world’s second-biggest auto market have left Nissan with falling demand for the Altima sedan and other models, a cheapened brand image and low resale values, while the costs to offer high discounts have hit its bottom line.
The latest job cuts also highlight the extent of problems facing Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who is also grappling with fractured relations with French alliance partner Renault following the arrest of their shared former chairman.
Ghosn has been charged with financial misconduct and denies wrongdoing.
Saikawa kept his job in a vote at an annual shareholders meeting last month, though he had to fight off a rare rebuke by top proxy advisory firms who urged shareholders not to reappoint him considering he was groomed for leadership by Ghosn.
In May, Nissan forecast a 28 percent plunge in annual operating profit, adding to a 45 percent fall in the previous year, putting the automaker on course for its weakest earnings in 11 years.
While addressing faltering performance, Saikawa also has to repair trust with Renault, which has deteriorated in past months as the French automaker sought more control within Nissan.
Renault owns 43 percent of the Japanese automaker, which in turn holds a 15 percent, non-voting stake in its partner. Saikawa, who has sought more equal footing with Renault, last month said Nissan would postpone discussions on the alliance’s future to prioritize performance.
The extended job cuts were first reported by Kyodo late on Tuesday.