* Renault shares buoyed by sales growth target
* Resists government pressure for Nissan production
* Sees 3 pct global expansion in 2013
(Adds comments on Nissan production, detail, background)
By Gilles Guillaume and Laurence Frost
PARIS, Jan 18 French carmaker Renault
pledged a return to sales growth in 2013 while resisting
government pressure to build cars in the country for alliance
Renault shares rose after sales chief Jerome Stoll predicted
a sales increase in all regions including Europe - despite a
further 3 percent contraction in the region's auto market.
"Our objective is to win back market share," he told
Renault, like other European carmakers, is struggling with
surplus capacity because of weak demand in Europe, where the
euro zone crisis and government austerity has sapped demand.
The company this week unveiled plans to cut 7,500 French
jobs over four years.
But the French government, Renault's biggest shareholder,
wants the carmaker to support domestic employment by building
cars for Nissan, its 43.4-owned Japanese affiliate. In a radio
interview on Friday, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said
Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn had agreed to the move.
The Renault sales chief insisted there was no such
commitment. "The decision is not taken as of today," Stoll said.
Renault's domestic plants are among the worst affected by
car industry overcapacity that has swollen as many European
countries have gone into recession. European car registrations
fell to a 17-year low last year.
The company's deliveries fell 6.3 percent to 2.55 million
vehicles in 2012, their first global decline since 2008, and
dropped three times faster in Europe.
The carmaker has dangled the possibility of Nissan and
Daimler production to keep plants running - but only
in exchange for concessions from unions including a longer
HELP FROM NISSAN
In his interview with RMC radio, Montebourg said he had
spoken to Ghosn, who heads both carmakers.
"Since you are also the head of Nissan, and Renault controls
Nissan, Nissan should come to the aid of French factories and
bring work to French production lines," Montebourg said he told
Asked whether French Renault plants would build Nissan
models, the minister responded: "That is what I asked ... The
answer was 'yes'."
With its two board seats and 15 percent stake in Renault,
the government is likely to press for French production of a
Nissan hatchback originally planned for the UK.
Assembly of the vehicle is to be allocated to another
European plant to make room for an upscale Infiniti model at
Nissan's Sunderland site in northeast England.
But the Japanese carmaker is inclined to build the car at a
more competitive Spanish facility, a Renault-Nissan source said
"There is a lot of pressure on Renault to manufacture in
France," he said. "But when we have got assets invested in Spain
we will use them."
Renault shares were 2.7 percent higher at 1133 GMT after
rising as much as 3.6 percent on the company's sales growth
pledge. The stock has gained 26 percent over the past six
Renault's forecast of a 3 percent European market decline
this year contrasted with a predicted 3 percent expansion for
the global market.
The French carmaker expects plans for Chinese production to
receive Beijing's formal approval in the first half, Stoll also
(Additional reporting by Chine Labbe and Nicholas Vincocur;
Editing by Christian Plumb and Jane Merriman)