By on October 22, 2019

Now that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance has its upper echelon sorted, the time has come to mend the partnership properly. With the new staffers healthily distanced from the old guard of the Ghosn era, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is giving himself one year to fix things before considering the entire issue a “failure, on a personal level, and by our teams.”

Senard didn’t explain the benchmarks for success, and twelve months doesn’t allot much time to right a ship that’s been listing for several years. Rumors exist that Renault may even be looking to ditch Nissan for becoming too much of a burden. Meanwhile, the Japanese automaker’s former CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, estimated the company’s vast restructuring efforts would not significantly improve profitability for at least another year.

However, most of what we’ve heard from Nissan and Renault leadership includes a concerted effort to restore trust within the auto alliance and strengthen industrial ties. Contentious merger talks have also fallen by the wayside and are unlikely to crop up after Renault’s own profitability warning from earlier this month. 

That may be good news for Japanese investors concerned with French influence. Renault is undoubtedly looking at its balance sheet and someone has probably brought up the possibility of selling assets, including Nissan shares. The French automaker currently owns 43 percent of company with voting rights. Meanwhile, France’s government has a 15-percent stake in Renault — often flexing a bit of bureaucratic muscle to help steer the automaker’s trajectory. But some analysts suggest the company could also be seeking to cut those ties, as well.

The Commissioner of French State Holdings, Martin Vial, has similarly entertained the possibility of the alliance shifting its balance — including reduced governmental involvement. But nothing official has been announced by any of the involved parties.

What is certain is that Nissan’s lower earnings has negatively impacted Renault, with the French carmaker developing a much bleaker outlook for the future. Weakening global economies, fast-changing emission rules, and diminished demand for new cars may have also played an important factor.

It’s too early to automatically assume the alliance is about to fracture, however. According to Reuters, Senard said collaborative industrial projects between Renault and Nissan would take priority over any discussions of a potential merger deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. He also suggested that reducing Renault’s stake in Nissan didn’t sound particularly appetizing.

“Nothing can ever be excluded, [but] this is not what we’re focused on,” he said.

Nissan’s replacement for Saikawa, Makoto Uchida, has similarly promised to improve alliance relations, adding that the Japanese firm was “on the right path for recovery.” Scheduled to assume his new post as CEO in January, the incoming boss has already warned that the automaker’s recovery will take some time.

[Image: Renault]

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