Ghosn's exit not the time to alter Renault-Nissan alliance: French official

PARIS (Reuters) - France has told Japan that now is not the time to contemplate changes in the power balance inside the Renault-Nissan alliance, an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Thursday.

People walk near a Nissan signage at Nissan Motor Co.'s global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan November 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The Elysee Palace official described the financial misconduct accusations against Carlos Ghosn, who was ousted as Nissan Motor Co’s chairman by the carmaker’s board on Thursday, as “precise”.

Nissan’s board fired Ghosn in a unanimous vote after the industry veteran’s surprise arrest in Japan, ushering in a period of uncertainty for an alliance beset by tensions over who is the dominant partner.

“We have been very clear: now is certainly not the time for any changes in the capital of one part of the alliance or another, for Nissan to increase its stake in Renault for example,” the Elysee official said.

“And they have told us this is not their intention.”

Nonetheless, there could be room for discussions about the alliance’s structure in the future, the official added.

The French government holds 15 percent of Renault RENA.PA, which in turn owns 43.4 percent of Nissan. The Japanese company holds a non-voting 15 percent stake in Renault and a 34 percent share of Mitsubishi Motors 7211.T.

Ghosn was the architect of the three-way alliance and was pushing for a deeper tie-up, including a potential full merger of Renault and Nissan, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.

Some industry analysts have linked that push to the timing of his arrest. The Elysee official acknowledged France had not recognized the deepening mistrust inside Nissan, but said that France was not buying into conspiracy theories.

“The accusations are extreme, certainly, but they are also precise,” the official said.

“We know there’s a flourishing conspiracy theory about all this, but that’s really not our current thinking.”

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Lough