Nissan in Talks With Batista on Brazil Venture
Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second- largest automaker, is in talks with billionaire Eike Batista for a possible partnership in Brazil as it seeks to quadruple its car output capacity in the Latin American country.
The company, based in Yokohama, Japan, is considering options for a new plant in Brazil including a deal with Batista, Brazil’s richest man, Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga told reporters today in Sao Paulo. Nissan is evaluating alternatives for its new Brazilian plant, he said, declining to provide details of possible partnerships.
“We’ve had some discussions with Batista, but we still have several options for this project,” Shiga said at a press conference.
Nissan plans to build a plant in Brazil with capacity to produce 200,000 cars a year, and it has a target to boost market share in the country to 5 percent from 1.2 percent, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn said June 27. The automaker’s current annual capacity is 60,000 cars through a plant shared with Renault SA (RNO) in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, in the Southern Brazilian state of Parana, according to the company’s website.
“We have a very strong commitment to the Brazilian market, that’s why we’ve decided to invest in the new plant in Brazil,” Shiga said, adding that the company is still deciding on a location for the plant.
Nissan is in a good position to attract investors who may provide cash to invest in the project, Christian Mounier, head of the company’s Brazilian unit, said during the press conference. Getting financing from Brazil’s National Development Bank is also an option for Nissan, he said.
Batista, 54, was the world’s eighth-richest man on Forbes Magazine’s list of billionaires this year after betting on a surge in commodity demand and Brazil’s growing infrastructure needs as the country increases its raw-material output. His logistics unit LLX Logistica SA (LLXL3) is building the Acu complex in the Rio de Janeiro state that the billionaire says will be the world’s third-biggest port after attracting $40 billion in investments from oil-storage facilities to car plants.
Nissan is one of the automakers interested in Acu that had approached EBX Group Co., the holding company for most of Batista’s assets, EBX said today in an e-mailed statement.
LLX rose 16 centavos, or 4.7 percent, to 3.57 reais in Sao Paulo trading as of 3:25 p.m. New York time. The stock dropped about 24 percent so far this year compared with a 24 percent decline by the Brazilian benchmark Bovespa index.
Sales in Mexico are expected to surpass 1 million units a year, said Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, in an interview. The carmaker ships to more than 60 countries from Mexico, including to the U.S., Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, he said.
“Right now, within the Americas region, Mexico is really our sales champion,” said Krueger. Nissan has been leading the Mexican car market for the past 29 months, he said.
Nissan’s Brazilian unit could learn from the Mexican one in order to improve sales and reach the market-share goal, he said.
The company doesn’t see a severe drop in business like the one during 2008’s financial crisis even as Wall Street again becomes volatile, said Krueger.
“I don’t predict or see any major economic crisis coming,” said Krueger.