• Nissan has expressed concern to Japanese, French governments
  • Japanese carmaker said to consider changes to alliance

A senior Nissan Motor Co. executive said the Japanese government fully supports the carmaker’s concern over the French state’s growing influence on its alliance with Renault SA, as tensions mount over control of one of the most successful automaker partnerships.

“We are directly explaining our concerns to the French government, and the Japanese government also showed understanding,” Nissan Chief Competitive Officer Hiroto Saikawa, who’s also a member of Renault’s board, said in Tokyo on Tuesday. The Japanese government “highly values the alliance as well as its future potential and fully supports our position,” he said.

Saikawa’s comments come after reports that the automaker is considering plans to restructure its alliance with Renault, including ending the French manufacturer’s voting rights. The structure of the partnership, which was put together when Nissan was near bankruptcy, has become a source of tension after the French government increased its shareholding in Renault without giving advance notice to Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive officer of both carmakers.

“We will continue to have dialogue with the French government, together with Renault board members,” Saikawa, the highest-ranking Nissan executive after Ghosn, said at the company’s earnings briefing in Yokohama.

A paper circulated to Renault board members by Saikawa laid out a scenario that could grant the Japanese company voting rights in Renault, reversing the French carmaker’s one-sided control of the partnership, people familiar with the matter said last week. The document is part of a broader process to restructure the 16-year-old alliance, and no decisions are anticipated immediately, the people said.

The alliance between Renault and Nissan is important, and its balance must not
be jeopardized, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said in Paris last
week.

Calls to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the auto industry, weren’t answered outside of regular business hours.

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