TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the two automakers will preserve their 16-year alliance through a crisis that has emerged after the French government's bid for more influence over Renault.
"From time to time you are going to have crisis, problems, divergence," Ghosn said today in a Bloomberg Television interview from the Tokyo auto show. "But you are always motivated by the fact that the alliance is the biggest asset and it has to be preserved."
Ghosn's comments follow reports that Nissan is considering plans to restructure its alliance with Renault after the French government increased its ownership stake in April.
Nissan Chief Competitive Officer Hiroto Saikawa has laid out a scenario to Renault board members that could grant the Japanese company voting rights in the French carmaker, reversing what’s been a partnership with one-sided control, people familiar with the situation said.
The alliance has been held together by unequal cross shareholdings and Ghosn’s dual role. Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan, which in turn holds 15 percent of its partner. Under French law, Nissan doesn’t have voting rights for its stake, as it is considered under Renault control.
France encroached on the alliance by increasing its stake in Renault to 19.74 percent from 15.01 percent. The move was meant to boost the government’s power at one of the country’s key manufacturers through a law that doubles the voting rights of investors who hold stock for more than two years. France has yet to reduce the stake back to its original level as planned.
Nissan suggested balanced holdings with Renault in a range of 25 percent to 35 percent in a paper from Saikawa that was circulated to board members, the people said. Voting rights could be revived if Renault’s stake falls to less than 40 percent, and Renault is also considering that move, people familiar with the situation said earlier this month.
"There are a lot of talks taking place today -- they are very mature, very responsible -- between different parties," Ghosn, 61, said. "They will come to a solution acceptable for everybody."
"There is a consensus not just inside the company but among the shareholders of both companies that the alliance is a good thing and it needs to be continued, it needs to be strengthened," he said.
Ghosn also told reporters at the show: "The last 16 years of the alliance have not been without tension, but we have overcome that. We will work together no matter what."
Douglas A. Bolduc contributed to this report