Nissan, Renault Agree to Sweeping Overhaul of Global Alliance

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Nissan Motor Co. Global Headquarters in Yokohama

TOKYO/PARIS (Reuters) — Nissan Motor Co and Renault SA agreed on Monday to a sweeping restructure of their two-decade-old automaking alliance that will put them on equal footing and see the Japanese company invest in Renault’s new electric vehicle business.

The announcement came after nearly four months of intense talks that sources told Reuters were complicated by concerns about the intellectual property sharing as Renault sought to build a number of new tie-ups with companies outside the alliance.

Under the deal, which is still subject to board approvals, Renault will reduce its stake in Nissan to 15% from around 43%, transferring the 28% stake in the Japanese automaker to a French trust, Renault said.

Renault would then instruct the trustee to sell those shares, worth around $4.1 billion at current market values, if commercially reasonable for the French automaker, in a coordinated and orderly process, it added.

Nissan also said it would invest in Renault’s new battery-electric vehicle unit.

Since the two automakers announced they were in negotiations to restructure their alliance in early October, shares in Renault have gained almost 25%, while Nissan shares are up just 3%.

The future shape of the Franco-Japanese alliance has implications for both companies as well as their junior partner, Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

It also highlights how the immense technological upheaval in the auto industry is forcing companies to both partner and compete with a dizzying number of newcomers and tech firms.

Renault, for instance, has said it will partner with companies from China’s Geely Automobile Holdings to semiconductor giant Qualcomm Inc.

The French company is separately working to finalize a deal with Geely and to bring Saudi Arabian state oil producer Aramco in as an investor and partner to develop gasoline engines and hybrid technologies, Reuters has reported.