Crawling Back? Renault Still Eager to Merge With Fiat Chrysler, Report Claims

The proposed merger between two auto giants — Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — went nowhere earlier this year, but the door to the deal never swung fully shut. That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, in which sources claim talks are ongoing to rekindle the romance.

FCA snatched away its offer in June after the French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, intruded into discussions, citing a need to have alliance partner Nissan fully on board. The Japanese automaker, embroiled in scandal and a serious financial slump, kept its distance from those earlier talks, offering polite but unenthusiastic public support as reports emerged of concerns about its autonomy and shrinking influence under such a marriage.

To get the deal back on track, Renault would need to loosen its ties with Nissan.

According to the WSJ report, Nissan wants to even out the lopsided relationship between it and its alliance partner. Sources with knowledge of the talks — apparently ongoing since June — say the Japanese automaker wants Renault to cuts its 43.4 percent stake in the company.

While Nissan holds a 15-percent stake in Renault, it does not enjoy the voting rights afforded to Renault. However, before Renault can partly divest itself of Nissan, the French government would first have to give a thumbs-up. In earlier discussions with FCA, France sought assurances related to plant locations and employment numbers.

In withdrawing its proposal, FCA claimed it had “become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.”

Talks between the two automakers are expected to last through the end of the year, with the possibility of a memorandum of understanding related to an alliance restructuring signed by next month, sources claim. As you’d expect, no one at Nissan or Renault have anything to say to the media.

Under FCA’s proposal, the 50:50 merger, valued at $35 billion, would mean the creation of the world’s third-largest auto company and potentially lead to $5.6 billion in annual efficiencies, or so FCA claimed. The Italian-American company’s chairman, John Elkann, would reprise his role, with Renault CEO Jean-Dominique Senard likely serving as CEO. Overseen by an 11-member board, the new entity would be structured through a Dutch holding company.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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