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

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.


Libyan state oil firm warns against export blockade

Updated 18 January 2020

Libyan state oil firm warns against export blockade

  • The NOC issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns calls to blockade oil ports ahead of the Berlin Conference on Sunday”
  • Tribes close to eastern Libya-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar had called for a blockade of coastal oil export terminals

TRIPOLI: Libya’s National Oil Company warned Friday against threats to block oil exports, the war-torn country’s main income source, two days before a Berlin conference aimed at relaunching a peace process.
Tribes close to eastern Libya-based military strongman Khalifa Haftar had called for a blockade of coastal oil export terminals to protest a Turkish intervention against Haftar in the country’s grinding conflict.
The NOC later issued a statement saying it “strongly condemns calls to blockade oil ports ahead of the Berlin Conference on Sunday.”
Turkey has backed the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord as it faces an offensive by Haftar’s forces to seize the capital from what he calls “terrorists” supporting the GNA.
After months of combat, which has killed more than 2,000 people, a cease-fire came into effect Sunday backed by both Ankara and Moscow, which is accused of supporting Haftar.
However, after Turkey deployed troops to support the United Nations-recognized GNA, tribes close to Haftar threatened to close down the “oil crescent” — a string of export hubs along Libya’s northeastern coast under Haftar’s control since 2016.
His troops have also mobilized to block any counter-attack on the oil crescent, the conduit for the majority of Libya’s crude exports.
“The closure of the fields and the terminals is purely a popular decision. It is the people who decided this,” spokesman for pro-Haftar forces Ahmad Al-Mismari told Al-Hadath television late Friday.
The tribes also called for the “immediate” closure of the Mellitah, Brega and Misrata pipelines.
The head of the eastern Zouaya tribe told AFP that blocking exports would “dry up the sources of funding for terrorism via oil revenues.”
NOC chairman Moustafa Sanalla said the oil and gas sector is “vital” for the Libyan economy, as it is the “single source of income for the Libyan people.”
“The oil and the oil facilities belong to the Libyan people. They are not cards to be played to solve political matters,” he added.
“Shutting down oil exports and production will have far-reaching and predictable consequences.”
The oil-rich North African state has been in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Its oil sector, which brings in almost all of the state’s revenues, has frequently been the target of attacks.
Sanalla said the consequences of exports and production being shut down for an extended period could be devastating.
“We face collapse of the exchange rate, a huge and unsustainable increase in the national deficit, the departure of foreign contractors, and the loss of future production, which may take years to restore,” he said.
“This is like setting fire to your own house.”