French gov't presses Japan to accept Renault-Nissan merger

The French government has asked Japan to accept a merger between Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co following the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, who had managed the alliance of the carmakers, sources close to the matter said Sunday.
The request, made at talks between French and Japanese officials in Tokyo, reflects President Emmanuel Macron's wishes, the sources said.
The French government is the biggest shareholder in Renault with a more than 15 percent stake, while Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan with voting rights.
Macron held talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month in which they only agreed to ensure a stable relationship within the three-way alliance, also involving Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Nissan, which holds a 15 percent stake in Renault, is widely seen as hoping to reduce the influence of the French partner on its management and review the alliance to make it more equitable.
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November and has been indicted for allegedly underreporting his remuneration in Nissan's financial statements, among other charges.
Nissan, which brought the allegations to prosecutors following a whistleblower tip, has ousted Ghosn as chairman, while saying it did not have enough checks on his power during his two-decade reign.
Ghosn, known for saving Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy, was sent to the Japanese automaker from Renault in 1999 as chief operating officer. He became Nissan president in 2000 and served as chief executive from 2001 to 2017.
Nissan will hold the first meeting of its new committee on Sunday aimed at improving its corporate governance following Ghosn's arrest.
The seven-member committee, comprised of Nissan's external directors and business experts, is set to compile proposals by March, after which Nissan will decide on a successor to Ghosn.
Renault is expected to put a new leadership in place this week by replacing Ghosn as chairman and CEO, since he has been denied bail in Japan. Ghosn has denied all allegations against him.
French government officials and Renault's top brass arrived in Tokyo last week to meet with those from the Japanese industry ministry and Nissan over the future of the alliance between the carmakers.
The French delegation included Renault board member Martin Vial and an official representing Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, the sources said.

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