FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- German carmaker Daimler AG and France's Renault SA are close to deciding on a wide-ranging strategic partnership that would include a swap of small equity stakes, the Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources close to the situation.
The paper quoted one person as saying the "symbolic" stakes could be about 3 percent, just above the level at which they would have to be disclosed.
The agreement will be announced in April, the paper said on today.
Daimler and Renault, which already has Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co. as an alliance partner, had previously said they were in talks on possible cooperation but had declined to comment on whether the accord might include swapping equity stakes.
Daimler is seeking a partner for small-car production, an area where the German group struggles to be profitable because of small scale and high variable costs.
In December, Daimler and Renault said they were talking about joint projects without giving further details. Reports said the two automakers could develop a joint small-car platform that would be based on Renault's Twingo and would be used by Daimler to underpin a four-seater model for its Smart microcar brand.
Nissan may supply electric cars and batteries to Daimler and source large engines from the German automaker, the Nikkei business daily said on Tuesday.
"We are talking with Daimler as with other companies but at this stage we have no comment to make," a Renault spokeswoman said today.
A Nissan spokesman in Japan said: "It's rumor and speculation and we don't comment on those."