France open to lower Renault stake, says minister


PARIS • France is prepared to consider cutting its 15% stake in Renault SA to help shore up the carmaker’s alliance with Nissan Motor Co Ltd, AFP reported on Saturday, citing an interview with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

France is ready to consider reducing its holding if it leads to a “more solid” alliance between the Japanese and French automakers, Le Maire told AFP at the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Fukuoka, Japan.

Nissan would prefer a full exit because the state’s activism has generated tension within the alliance and it’s not clear that a reduction of the French stake in the automaker would change that, according to a person familiar with the matter.

France isn’t planning an imminent stake sale in Renault, according to a government official asked about Le Maire’s comments.

Le Maire also said Renault should concentrate on forging closer links with Nissan before seeking other alliances.

Renault declined to comment and a Nissan spokesman said the company is committed to the alliance.

The comments follow the collapse of discussions between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Renault to form a global car manufacturing powerhouse.

The talks ended abruptly earlier last week when Fiat withdrew its offer after France asked for more time to seal the deal as it tried to get the backing of its Japanese partner Nissan. — Bloomberg