Macron sees 'no reason' to alter French stake in Renault
A sign of French automaker Renault Group shows the way for the Renault shareholders general meeting in Paris, France, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday there was no need to change France's stake in carmaker Renault, insisting the issue had nothing to do with the crisis faced by its Japanese partner Nissan.
Renault and Nissan have been at loggerheads since the shock arrest in November of Carlos Ghosn who headed a three-way alliance between the pair and Japan's Mitsubishi Motors.
Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, and the French state in turn holds a 15-percent stake in Renault -- raising hackles at the Japanese firm, which is sensitive to perceived French interference.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP in an interview on June 8 that Paris was open to cutting its stake if would shore up the partnership with Nissan.
But Macron, on a state visit to Japan, appeared to contradict his minister, telling reporters: "There is no reason to change the cross-shareholdings, the governance and... the state's holding in Renault, which has nothing to do with Nissan."
Macron also appeared to be firing a warning to Nissan boss Hiroto Saikawa who told shareholders on Tuesday that the sensitive issue of the alliance's current structure might need to be reconsidered "if imbalance becomes a factor of instability".
However, former economy minister Macron noted that the complex balance of stock holdings in the alliance was "a result of history".
"We are not going to revisit this now. It is not the subject. It is not by changing the shareholdings that Nissan will get better," said Macron.
Net profit at Nissan fell to a near-decade low in the last business year and it has already warned of "a difficult business environment" for the next 12 months.
"The results we have seen recently are not linked to shareholdings, they are industrial. Let's have less politics and more industry and more technological innovation," said Macron.