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Nissan-Renault alliance

Renault has no reason to cut its Nissan stake, Macron says

President sees current ties as outcome of rescue by French automaker

Macron speaks to reporters in Tokyo on June 27 ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka. (Photo by Yocihi Iwata)

TOKYO -- "Nothing justifies" reducing Renault's 43% stake in partner Nissan Motor, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday, highlighting the challenge the Japanese automaker would face in trying to address the lopsided capital relationship.

Speaking to reporters here ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Macron stressed that the struggles facing the global auto alliance cannot be the reason for changing "the rule of governance or the shareholdings." He called for a "firm Franco-Japanese alliance" and urged an end to "creating instability" in the automakers' relationship. With a 15% interest in Renault, the French government holds strong sway over the automaker.

Renault's stake in Nissan carries voting rights, while Nissan holds a 15% nonvoting stake in its French partner -- a relationship criticized in Japan as skewed in Renault's favor. Nissan has been hoping to limit Renault's influence and exercise more independence, and the debate has grown more heated since last year's arrest of since-ousted alliance leader Carlos Ghosn by Japanese authorities.

Macron said he views the automakers' capital relationship as the natural outcome of business activities started with Renault's 1999 rescue of a crisis-hit Nissan.

His comments came the day after Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard struck a cautious tone on adjusting cross-shareholdings in an interview here, citing a need for "time" to handle the issue.

But even in the Macron administration, some are more amenable to discussion. "If we have to cut Renault's stake in Nissan to have better governance -- one that is more efficient, that takes faster decisions -- we are open to that," Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Nikkei this month.

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