No need to rush Renault-Fiat merger talks: French finance minister

FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire delivers a speech during a high-level forum on debt at the Finance ministry in Paris, France, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said there was no need to rush regarding the $35 billion merger talks between carmakers Renault and Fiat Chrysler, while reiterating that he nevertheless wanted the deal to go ahead.

“We should take our time to make sure that things are done well,” Le Maire told BFM TV on Wednesday, regarding the merger talks.

“We want to do this merger,” he added, also stating that the government wanted guarantees over the new entity’s jobs, having a headquarter in Paris and corporate governance.

Sources had earlier told Reuters that Fiat Chrysler had resolved key differences with France over its proposed merger with Renault, as talks on the tie-up plan progressed toward a possible agreement on Wednesday.

A compromise over French influence could clear the way for Renault’s board to approve a framework deal and begin the long process of a full merger.

FCA, Renault and its 15% shareholder, the French state, have been in talks over the Italian-American manufacturer’s bid to create the world’s third-biggest carmaker.

France has broadly welcomed the deal, on condition it guarantees Renault’s domestic blue-collar jobs and plants, while also preserving Renault’s existing alliance with Japanese partner Nissan.

Le Maire told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Paris could accept a dilution of the French state’s stake in a merged Renault-Fiat group as the French industrial policy of taking stakes in companies had proven unsuccessful.

“If state ownership was a guarantee of success, then we would not have lost 1 million industrial jobs in 10 years,” he told the German daily newspaper.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Inti Landauro and Paul Carrel; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter