Renault agrees to limit influence at Nissan, details new joint projects

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Further details about the recalibrated Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance were announced overnight at a press conference held in London.

As announced last week, it will see Renault voluntarily limit its influence at Nissan, and eventually sell off much of its shareholding.

In return, Nissan is expected to take a 15 per cent stake in Ampere, Renault’s new Europe-based EV and software division. Mitsubishi will also consider investing in Ampere.

There are also a slew of new or reconfirmed projects between the two automakers across Latin America, Europe, and India.

The two firms say the new Alliance agreement will run for at least 15 years, and provide the French and Japanese car companies with a new “enhanced strategic agility [as well as] new initiatives that partners can join”.

Final details are still being worked out, but assuming regulatory approvals are given, the new agreement is expected to come into force from the fourth quarter of 2023.

Voting rights

Since coming to Nissan’s rescue in 1999, Renault has owned a controlling stake in the Yokohama-based automaker.

Right now Renault owns a 43.4 per cent stake in Nissan, which under Japanese law gives it control of the Japanese firm, and the ability to nominate board members and the CEO. As part of their long-standing alliance, Nissan in turn owns a 15 per cent stake in Renault, but has no voting rights in the French company.

This has long been a bone of contention between the two automakers, especially in recent times when Nissan has outsold its French owner, and has been more profitable too.

Under the new agreement, Nissan will finally have voting rights at Renault shareholding meetings. Both firms have agreed to limit their voting rights on regular matters to 15 per cent.

Renault still retains the right to nominate two members to Nissan’s board, and Nissan can still name two members to Renault’s board.

Additionally, a 2016 agreement with the French state preventing it from exercising its voting rights in Renault will be rescinded.

The Alliance Operating Board will continue to operate, and will help Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi coordinate their vehicle and technology development plans.

Renault to sell down its Nissan stake, eventually

Renault has agreed to reduce its holding in Nissan to 15 per cent. To facilitate this, 28.4 per cent of Nissan’s shares will be placed in a trust.

According to the two firms, the trust will gradually sell off its stake in Nissan when instructed to by Renault, and in consultation with the Japanese company.

Nissan has the first right of refusal over any shares sold by the trust, but the trust has “no obligation to sell the shares within a specific pre-determined period of time”.

The trust will in most instances vote “neutrally”, except when electing members to or dismissing people from Nissan’s board of directors, where it will vote in line with either the Renault or Nissan delegation. It will also abstain from votes not supported by Nissan’s board.

New joint-venture projects

In Europe, Renault and Nissan will look to work together on small Megane-sized EVs that are due on the market after 2026. These vehicles will likely use a 800V architecture, and benefit from a new charging network to be deployed at Nissan and Renault dealerships.

Renault plans to launch a new electric FlexEVan in 2016 in Europe, and it will be shared with Nissan. This continues a long-standing relationship between the two, which sees Nissan sell rebadged versions of Renault’s vans on the Continent.

Across in Latin America, Renault’s “new half-ton pick-up”, possibly a replacement for the Duster Oroch, will be shared with Nissan. Meanwhile the Nissan Frontier/Navara-based Renault Alaskan will continue to be produced by Renault in Argentina.

Nissan will also produce a new Renault-branded model at one of its Mexican factories.

The two companies will also jointly develop a pair of city-friendly EVs for sale in Latin America and India.

On the subcontinent Renault and Nissan will work together on a bunch of new crossovers, with the first being a Nissan-badged version of the Renault Triber.

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