Nissan says it's not splitting up with Renault
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks to Japanese media during an interview in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (Meika Fujio/Kyodo News via AP)
Nissan is dismissing reports that it is engineering a corporate divorce from Renault.
"Nissan is in no way considering dissolving the Alliance," the Japanese carmaker said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the global car alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.
The statement came in response to the growing number of reports in recent days that Nissan was concerned about the strained relationship with Renault following the downfall of former chief Carlos Ghosn, and was looking into contingency plans to break away from the French carmaker.
Ghosn is currently in Lebanon after making an audacious escape from Japan last month. He was arrested in Tokyo in late 2018 on suspicion of financial misconduct, leading to his ouster from atop Nissan and the alliance. Ghosn has repeatedly denied the charges, claiming that his arrest was brought about by Nissan executives who opposed his plans to deepen the Japanese company's integration with Renault.
Ghosn engineered the global car alliance, and there has been talk of its demise ever since he was arrested.
The three carmakers share ownership stakes, technology and manufacturing facilities. The setup has brought financial benefits. Pooling resources among the three manufacturers saves them more than €5 billion (US$5.7 billion) a year in costs, according to the companies.
Nissan on Tuesday highlighted the benefits of sticking with Renault and Mitsubishi.
"The Alliance is the source of Nissan's competitiveness. Through the Alliance, to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, Nissan will look to continue delivering win-win results for all member companies," the company said.
The government of France, which owns 15% of Renault, weighed in on Tuesday. Finance minister Bruno Le Maire told CNews TV that reports suggesting a split with Nissan were "malicious."
Le Maire added that a new CEO for Renault should be in place "in a few days." Thierry Bolloré, who had succeeded Ghosn as CEO, was ousted in October.
At a wide ranging press conference in Lebanon last week, Ghosn blasted the alliance for missing out on a "huge opportunity" following his ouster to bring Fiat Chrysler on board.
"It is unbelievable," said Ghosn. "How can you lose that? How can you lose a huge opportunity to become the dominant player in this industry?"
Fiat Chrysler last year agreed to instead merge with French carmaker Peugeot.
Ghosn also claimed that Nissan's campaign against him is destroying the company and its reputation, and diverting the attention of top management.
"The market cap decrease of Nissan, since my arrest is more than $10 billion," he said. "They lost more than $40 million a day."
Shares in Nissan have fallen 38% since Ghosn's November 2018 arrest, leading to just under a $10 billion drop in the company's market valuation.
The company said last week that it is still pursuing "appropriate legal action" against Ghosn, despite his escape from Japan.