Renault Slashes Nissan Stake as the Automakers Overhaul Their Decades-Long Alliance

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  • Automobile giants Renault and Nissan have agreed a sweeping restructure of their decades-long alliance, in place since 1999.
  • As part of the overhaul, Renault will transfer 28.4% of Nissan shares into a French trust.

Automobile giants Renault and Nissan on Monday agreed to restructure their decades-long alliance, in a move that would see Renault's shareholdings in Nissan reduced from around 43% to 15%.

The deal, which still pends board approvals, would equalize the companies' cross-shareholdings, with the carmakers now able to "freely exercise the voting rights attached to their 15% direct shareholdings, with a 15% cap," the companies said.

The new structure would also see Renault transfer 28.4% of Nissan shares into a French trust.

Voting rights in the trust would be "'neutralized' for most of the decisions, but the economic rights (dividends and shares' sale proceeds) would still entirely benefit to Renault until such shares are sold," according to the Monday announcement.

Renault would instruct the trustee to sell those shares if "commercially reasonable" and as part of a "coordinated and orderly process."

The carmakers first signed their coalition in March 1999, expanding it to include junior partner Mitsubishi Motors in 2016. The Monday deal comes after months of intense discussions over the restructure of the Franco-Japanese alliance.

As part of the agreement, Nissan would also invest in Ampere, Renault's electric vehicle arm, while the two companies will embark on "high-value-creation operational projects" in Latin America, India and Europe.

Renault announced in November that it had signed a non-binding framework agreement with China's Geely to establish a new company producing hybrid powertrains and "highly efficient ICE [internal combustion engine] powertrains."

The French giant has also entered into a long-term strategic cooperation with U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm.

Renault shares dropped 1.4% in early trade in Europe, while Nissan shares were down by around 0.7% during Asian trading hours overnight.

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