TOKYO -- Nissan sees some upside in the proposed merger between its partner Renault and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles but remains noncommittal until it can assure its interests are protected.
That is the message from Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa in his first official statement on the potential blockbuster tie up between the two European automotive titans.
Saikawa, in comments issued by Nissan, said linking with FCA could "expand the playing field for collaboration and create new opportunities for further synergies."
But he said Nissan needs to scrutinize details of the proposal before fully supporting it.
"From the standpoint of protecting Nissan's interests, Nissan will analyze and consider its existing contractual relationships and how we should operate business in the future," the CEO said.
Saikawa cautioned that a full merger between FCA and Renault, as proposed last week by FCA, would "significantly alter" the structure of its 20-year alliance with Renault.
Therefore, he said, going ahead with merger talks would also necessitate a "fundamental review" of the ties between the French and Japanese automakers.
Renault's board was meeting Tuesday to decide on whether to move ahead with merger negotiations. FCA's initial proposal called for a 50-50 holding company between FCA and Renault. It did not directly address Renault's existing alliance with Nissan, and by extension, Mitsubishi Motors. But FCA dangled the promise of big synergies with them as well.
Renault owns a 43 percent stake in Nissan, making it the Japanese automaker's top shareholder. Nissan holds a 15 percent stake in Renault but has no voting rights.
As an olive branch to Nissan, FCA's proposal would give Nissan a seat on the new company's board and a 7.5 percent stake with voting rights.