Nissan Fears Risk To Autonomy In Tie-Up

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How will Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. deal with the proposed merger between their alliance partner Renault SA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA)?

Puzzlement is spreading among Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors over the proposal that Renault formally conveyed to the Japanese automakers Wednesday. There have been whispers warning that if the merger materializes, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors would be swallowed by the Renault-Fiat Chrysler side and could even become controlled effectively as subsidiaries.

The leaders of Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and Renault held a meeting that started Wednesday morning at Nissan’s head office building in Yokohama. According to sources, during the meeting, which ran for more than 1½ hours, Renault repeatedly emphasized the necessity of the proposed business integration with FCA.

Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard reportedly insisted the FCA merger would have merits for all three automakers in the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, and that he wanted to overcome an extremely difficult period for the automobile industry through the integration.

If the proposed merger becomes reality and the alliance expands from three automakers to four, their combined annual global sales would top 15 million vehicles. This group would take a handsome lead as the world’s top automaker, producing about 5 million more vehicles than its rivals Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. Should that happen, the alliance would gain advantages in procuring parts and raising massive research and development costs.

After the meeting, Renault Chief Executive Officer Thierry Bollore appeared confident the French automaker could convince Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to get behind the merger. Bollore told The Yomiuri Shimbun that his company had constructive discussions in a very cordial atmosphere and everything would go well.

However, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors did not fully agree with Renault’s assertions. During the meeting, Mitsubishi Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Osamu Masuko also made it clear support for the deal was not a given. Masuko reportedly told Renault that “chasing greater vehicle sales was not necessarily the objective” of the tie-up.

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