January 13, 2020 / 9:57 PM / 10 days ago

Renault, Nissan say alliance not headed for break-up

TOKYO/PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in Renault recovered some lost ground on Tuesday after the French carmaker and its Japanese partner Nissan Motor rejected media reports that their alliance was in danger of being dissolved.

Growing concerns about the state of the 20-year old French-Japanese alliance, forged by former boss turned fugitive Carlos Ghosn, had sent Renault and Nissan shares skidding to multi-year lows on Monday.

At the opening of trading in Paris on Tuesday, Renault shares rose 1.3 percent, before falling back slightly to trade up 0.49 percent by 08:23 GMT.

The alliance, which also includes Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp, is “solid, robust, everything but dead,” the chairman of Renault, Jean-Philippe Senard, told Belgian newspaper L’Echo.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also weighed in, saying reports some executives wanted to break up the alliance were “malicious.”

Speaking to France’s CNews TV, he also said he expected Renault to name a new chief executive within days to replace Thierry Bollore, a Ghosn-era appointee who was ousted in October.

Luca de Meo, who stepped down as the head of Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) Seat brand last week, is seen as a frontrunner for the job, although a stringent non-compete clause in his contract firm may prove a hurdle, sources have told Reuters.

Nissan, in response to “speculative international media reports,” said it was “in no way considering dissolving the alliance.”

FILE PHOTO: The logos of car manufacturers Renault and Nissan are seen in front of dealerships of the companies in Reims, France, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

“The alliance is the source of Nissan’s competitiveness,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement.

“Through the alliance, to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, Nissan will look to continue delivering win-win results for all member companies.”

Concerns emerged about the future of the Renault-Nissan partnership after the November 2018 arrest in Japan of Ghosn, the man who did more than anyone else to hold together the disparate alliance of often-contrasting carmaking cultures.

Those worries were given new momentum after Ghosn last month fled Japan where he was awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct — which he denies —, flew to Lebanon, and told the media the alliance was riven with mistrust.

Renault shares hit six-year lows on Monday as investors worried the French group’s 20-year cost-sharing alliance with Nissan was headed for a break-up without Ghosn to hold it together.

FILE PHOTO: Chairman of Renault SA Jean-Dominique Senard attends a news conference at French carmaker Renault headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

A Financial Times report on Monday that Nissan executives were making contingency plans for a split with Renault appeared to accelerate a sell-off in the French manufacturer’s shares.

Nissan shares tumbled to their lowest in 8-1/2 years on Tuesday in Tokyo.

(Graphic: Renault and Nissan shares click, here)

Reporting by Matthias Blamont and Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris and Chris Gallagher in Tokyo; Editing by Sarah White

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