Nissan on Wednesday told Renault it wasn’t opposed to its partner’s potential $35 billion merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA), the Nikkei newspaper said, as the two met to hash out the future of their alliance amid a deal that could upend the auto industry.
The leaders of Nissan Motor Co., France’s Renault SA and junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. gathered at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama for a scheduled alliance meeting —one overshadowed by Fiat Chrysler’s proposal this week for a merger-of-equals with Renault. The plan, which would create the world’s third-largest automaker, raises difficult questions about how Nissan would fit into a radically changed alliance. Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard arrived in Japan on Tuesday to discuss the proposed tie-up with Nissan, 43.4% owned by the French automaker.
“We are not opposed," the Nikkei quoted an unnamed Nissan official who had attended the meeting as saying. The person also said “many details need to be worked out" before the Japanese automaker solidifies its position on the issue, the Nikkei reported.
The tie-up poses an additional challenge for Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa, already grappling with poor financial performance and an uneasy relationship with Renault after Nissan led the ousting last year of long-standing alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn.
There have long been tensions between Nissan and Renault over the imbalance of power in their alliance. Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, Japanese media quoted Saikawa as telling reporters that he would look at the potential opportunities afforded by a Renault-FCA merger.