Renault is intending to restart merger talks with Nissan within a year and is also interested in acquiring Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) according to a report in the Financial Times.
Ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was said to have wanted the full merger with Nissan and to eventually add FCA to the industrial combine. However, the FT said that the French government – a big shareholder in Renault – was opposed to the move.
Merger plans hatched at Renault by Ghosn are said to have caused tensions within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, culminating in the arrest of ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct and his removal as chairman of Nissan. However, moves in recent weeks suggest something of an improvement to relations between the two companies and the likelihood that their industrial partnership will continue. Proposals for a full merger, or even greater integration of the two, could again prove highly controversial.
Meanwhile, FCA is said to have been talking to other car companies – including Renault rival PSA – about partnership or merger.
Analysts say the auto industry is subject to mounting pressure on costs as they invest in advanced technologies such as electric and autonomous. Tighter CO2 emission rules and a flattening out of demand in China, North America and Europe are also squeezing bottom lines. Industrial restructuring to secure greater scale economies – especially on expensive technologies such as EVs – is one way to improve profitability and mollify an increasingly anxious investment community.