The board of GM has agreed to "engage in exploratory discussions" with Renault and Nissan regarding GM's potential participation in an alliance among the three companies, the automaker said in a statement late on Friday.

"The GM board of directors authorised management to proceed with its plan to consider ideas the other two companies have and to weigh the potential benefits of such an alliance in order to assist the Board in its decision making," said GM director George Fisher.

"Management will keep the board well informed and the directors, of course, will closely monitor the process to assure that its outcome serves the best interests of all GM shareholders. The board continues to fully support the company's North American turnaround strategy, and we encourage management to also continue its efforts to conclude a satisfactory resolution of the issues associated with the Delphi bankruptcy and to complete the pending GMAC transaction."

GM chairman Rick Wagoner will lead the company's effort to conduct exploratory talks with the managements of Renault and Nissan, the statement said.

"General Motors has a lot of experience with different types of alliances, and some have provided significant benefits to GM's competitive position and financial strength," said Wagoner. "We will enter into discussions with the managements of Renault and Nissan with an open mind - eager to hear their ideas of how an alliance between our companies might work to our mutual benefit. Given the complexity of any potential relationship, it has to be carefully considered on its merits before coming to any conclusion. We are committed to an objective and thorough review of that potential."

Wagoner noted that when the idea of joining an alliance with Renault and Nissan was first suggested to him, he promptly contacted Carlos Ghosn and the two leaders agreed to meet at a mutually convenient time to have an initial exploratory discussion.

"We periodically receive interesting proposals and we owe it to the company and its shareholders to explore how they might work, and to objectively weigh the potential benefits and issues that each might present," Wagoner said. "That is exactly what we recommended to the GM board in this specific case, and exactly what it has agreed we should do."

"Following GM's board decision, we look forward to starting the discussion process soon," Renault said in a statement released soon after GM's.