Ghosn says Renault-Nissan alliance will be reworked by 2022
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said the automaker's alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors will be reworked by the end of his term in 2022.
The alliance works well but was a response to a specific set of circumstances, and "today there are questions as to whether this system can continue," Ghosn, who's chairman of the grouping, said in an interview with BFM Business television Friday. "It's a legitimate question to which we have to respond."
The executive was speaking ahead of Renault's annual meeting in Paris, where he is set to be formally reappointed for another four-year stint as CEO and could face resistance from holders -- particularly the French state -- over his 7.4-million-euro ($9 million) pay package last year.
Bloomberg News reported in March that Renault and Nissan are in talks to merge under a single stock, a move that could help them pool resources better in the new age of electrified vehicles and autonomous driving. Ghosn last month tamped down expectations of a quick deal to combine the companies, saying the specter of failed mergers in his industry loomed large.
Asked about Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa's comment that he sees "no merit" in combining the companies, Ghosn said: "He didn't say that. He said you have to first determine the merits of a combination before thinking about it, which is completely reasonable."
The partnership has a complicated structure with Nissan holding a 15 percent stake of Renault and no voting rights. Renault, the smaller and less valuable partner, has 44 percent of Nissan and can vote on corporate matters. In 2016, Ghosn added Mitsubishi Motors to the alliance after the company had been caught falsifying mileage estimates for several of its vehicles. Further complicating matters, the French government owns 15 percent of Renault, making it the largest shareholder.
"It's necessary that everyone feels at ease in this," Ghosn said on BFM Business. "Today we don't really have a problem in the short term -- the businesses work together, there's no conflict. We're trying to find a solution that will avoid problems over time."
Renault has appointed Thierry Bollore as chief operating officer, putting him in line to become CEO. In an interview published in Le Figaro, Ghosn was quoted as saying Bollore is a good candidate for the top job, but the board will ultimately decide.