In a joint statement, Renault and Nissan announced a major overhaul of their decades-old alliance. This is the first major change since the French marque saved the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy in 1999.
The companies have agreed on a basic framework for rebalancing their relationship, which involves Renault reducing its controlling stake in Nissan from 43 to 15 percent and Nissan taking a share in a new electric vehicle spinoff from Renault. The aim of the overhaul is to "strengthen the ties of the Alliance and maximize value creation for all stakeholders."
Renault will transfer 28.4 percent of its stake to a French trust, where the voting rights will be neutralized for most decisions. Renault will retain the rights to dividends and share-sale proceeds, preserving the value of its holding. The trustee will sell the shares if it is commercially reasonable for Renault, but there is no set time frame.
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Nissan will invest in Ampere, Renault's EV and software business spinoff. The stake's size or value has not been disclosed, but Nissan is reportedly prepared to invest up to 15 percent. Qualcomm is also expected to take a stake in the venture. The EV spinoff will focus on developing and selling full-electric vehicles that meet strict European emissions regulations. Nissan and its partner Mitsubishi Motors will have access to the technology for use in their European lineups.
The companies also plan to bolster their international cooperation with new operational projects in Latin America, India, and Europe. The projects will tackle market penetration, vehicles, and technologies. The new arrangement will bring the cross-shareholdings between Renault and Nissan to more equal footing, ending a long-standing source of tension and frustration within Nissan.
The major overhaul marks the beginning of a new era, referred to by some as the "Alliance 2.0." The agreement stated above is subject to approval by their boards and a formal announcement is expected as early as February 6.