Nissan technology fears said to delay Renault deal

TOKYO/PARIS — Nissan does not expect to reach an agreement before the end of the year to restructure its alliance with its largest shareholder Renault, according to people familiar with the matter.

Renault wants Nissan to invest in a new electric vehicle division it plans to spin off as part of a major overhaul. Nissan hopes Renault will sell part of about 43% of its Japanese firm to put the two automakers on more equal footing, Reuters previously reported.

According to four people who spoke on condition of anonymity, talks that have been going on for two months now are likely to enter the new year.

The delay is due to some Nissan board members stressing the need to move cautiously and being particularly concerned about intellectual property transfers, two of the people said.

Earlier this month, the company’s board of directors objected to the idea of ​​closing the deal by the end of the year, one of the people said.

technology sharing

Some member states say rushing to conclude an agreement before addressing concerns (including technology sharing) is a stepping stone to efforts to improve governance following the ouster of former Alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn. said it would fail.

Japan’s powerful trade ministry also does not want a deal to be struck prematurely, another source said.

Nissan and Renault declined to comment. No one at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was immediately available for comment.

For Renault, any delay in negotiations with Nissan risks delaying the restart timetable promised to investors by Chief Executive Luca de Meo. His sweeping plans include another pending deal with China’s Geely Automobile Holdings to split off Renault’s internal combustion engine business.

Reuters reported in October that technology sharing was an issue in talks between Renault and Nissan.

The relationship between Nissan and Renault has long had political implications. The French government is Renault’s largest shareholder. France’s trade ministry declined to comment.

French rule

French dominance in the alliance has long haunted Japan, as Nissan only owns 15% of Renault and has no voting rights. Many Nissan executives see the relationship as unbalanced, especially when it comes to product development.

Reuters reported earlier this month that the automaker would delay announcing a deal on Dec. 7 as it struggled to settle differences. This made it more likely that it would be announced by the end of this month, but now it seems unlikely.

Sources say Renault seems to be more committed to closing the deal. The scale of Renault’s planned overhaul also raises questions about how the Alliance will work in practice.

Renault will split into five businesses, deepen its relationship with Geely, and work with various partners such as Airbus for batteries and Google for product design and development.

Nissan President Makoto Uchida said in an interview with Reuters earlier this month that he was “very confident” the two companies could strengthen their partnership, saying how to “increase competitiveness” was a key area of ​​discussion. .

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