THE two-decade-old partnership between Renault and Nissan was plunged into fresh crisis this week as the French carmaker’s demand for a greater say in Nissan’s new governance system drew rare public censure by the Japanese firm.
Reuters says Renault, which owns 43.4 per cent of the Japanese brand, signalled that it would block Nissan from formally adopting an overhauled governance structure at a June 25 shareholder meeting — unless Renault received representation on new Nissan committees.
The demand, conveyed in a letter from Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard just weeks before the meeting, could scuttle the new structure, created after months of deliberation by an outside committee and previously supported by Senard.
Nissan responded in some of its frankest language yet against its top shareholder, calling the demand “most regrettable”.
The rift lays bare the deep strain between the two car companies, whose alliance has been under enormous pressure since the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in November.
What’s at stake now may be even bigger than their vast alliance, which includes Mitsubishi Motors.
By abstaining from the vote, Renault would effectively block the new governance system — which includes three committees — as adoption requires two-thirds approval.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said it was up to the management of both companies to solve their problems.
The French government owns 15 percent of Renault.
The two companies have struggled to repair their relationship after Ghosn’s arrest exposed simmering tensions, including Nissan’s long-held concerns about the alliance’s capital structure.
Nissan also appears to have been largely left in the dark on the merger discussions between Renault and Fiat Chrysler, which had attempted to join forces to create the world’s third-largest carmaker before talks fell apart last week.
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