As Renault board members met on Wednesday evening to discuss a merger offer from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it appeared that Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, FCA Chairman John Elkann and representatives of the French government had ironed out most of their differences.
Then FCA abruptly walked away.
Fiat Chrysler blamed French politics. In a statement, it said: "It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully."
France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Thursday that the government, which has a 15 percent stake in Renault, had not been prepared to back a deal that was not supported by Renault's alliance partner Nissan.
Nissan had signaled that its representatives on the board would abstain. During the board meeting, French government representatives sought to persuade Nissan to endorse the deal. The meeting was held up three times for consultations, people familiar with the events told Reuters.
When it came to a vote, the Nissan representatives abstained, the leftist CGT union voted against, and all other directors voted for it. When it was the French state representatives' turn to vote, they insisted that the vote be postponed.
Renault's Senard requested that Fiat Chrysler grant a delay. Instead, FCA quickly rejected the request, a person familiar with the events said.
Renault said in a statement that the board was "unable to take a decision due to the request expressed by the representatives of the French State to postpone the vote."