(Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said France is ready to cut its stake in Renault SA in order to consolidate Renault’s partnership with Nissan Motor Co, Agence France Press (AFP) reported on Saturday.
Le Maire said Paris, which has a 15% stake in Renault, might consider reducing its stake, if it led to a “more solid” alliance between the Japanese and French firms, the French news agency reported, citing an interview with the minister.
“We can reduce the state’s stake in Renault’s capital. This is not a problem as long as, at the end of the process, we have a more solid auto sector and a more solid alliance between the two great car manufacturers Nissan and Renault,” he told AFP.
Le Maire had earlier said the French government was open to tie-ups involving Renault as long as French industrial interests were protected, and would consider any Renault deal with Fiat Chrysler that respected the French firm’s alliance with its Japanese partner Nissan.
Fiat on Thursday abandoned its $35 billion merger offer for Renault, blaming French politics for scuttling what would have been a landmark deal to create the world’s third-biggest automaker behind Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp and Germany’s Volkswagen.
The French government had welcomed the merger plan, but overplayed its hand by pushing for a series of guarantees and concessions that eventually exhausted the patience of FCA, sources told Reuters.
Renault and Nissan were not immediately available to respond to a request seeking comment.
Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Elaine Hardcastle