RENAULT’S long-time Alliance partner Nissan has been left sidelined by a potential tie-up between the French firm and Fiat-Chrysler, just as the beleaguered Japanese carmaker battles to recover from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.
“It’s an ill thought-out and badly conceived plan,” fumed one source close to Nissan, who did not wish to be identified, told AFP in response to the Fiat-Chrysler “50:50” merger proposal that would potentially create the world’s third-largest carmaker.
It is a bitter pill to swallow for Nissan, which appeared to be completely left in the dark about the project and is already battling falling sales amid reputational damage from the downfall of Ghosn, who is fighting financial misconduct charges.
Putting a brave face on it, Nissan CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, told reporters he was “open to constructive discussions to strengthen the alliance”.
Nissan and Renault, with headquarters 10,000km apart and with very different histories and cultures, have always been seen as unlikely bedfellows and Ghosn was instrumental in keeping the alliance together.
With his downfall, after a Nissan-led investigation, the glue bonding the pair since 1999 has been removed and relations have quickly gone downhill.
Fiat’s offer, which Renault is studying “with interest”, shows its Japanese partner that “it is no longer as important in its eyes,” relegating it to third place, according to Christopher Richter, analyst at Tokyo-based CLSA.
But, according to a well-informed source, “the door is open” for Nissan to join the tie-up, despite a recent downturn in sales figures.
“There are too many joint projects,” said one source close to the Japanese firm.
“The alliance in its current form cannot be defeated, it is already irreversible.”
Investors, however, did not seem to cheer the news.
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