Renault chief confident partnership with Nissan on track

Dominique Senard

FILE – This Jan.24, 2019 file photo shows Jean-Dominique Senard after being appointed Renault chairman following a meeting of the board held at Renault headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has expressed confidence that the French automaker’s alliance with Japan’s Nissan remains on track following the appointment of a new board in the wake of the scandal involving Carlos Ghosn, who chaired both companies. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

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BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT, France (AP) — Renault’s chairman expressed confidence Thursday that the French automaker’s alliance with Nissan remains on track following the appointment of a new board at the Japanese firm in the wake of the scandal involving Carlos Ghosn, who had chaired both companies.

Jean-Dominique Senard also told reporters that there has been no effort to renew merger talks with Fiat Chrysler, which halted discussions last month after making the initial approach.

Speaking to the Anglo-American Press Association, he said that during regular discussions with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, Ghosn’s name has not been mentioned recently.

Senard was appointed in January, two months after the arrest in Tokyo of Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades.

“Yes, of course we spoke of Mr. Ghosn, but it’s no longer the case,” he said of his almost daily conversations with Saikawa. “Now, we must move toward the future …It’s no longer an issue for the company.”

Nissan’s profits have tumbled since Ghosn’s arrest on a variety of financial misconduct charges. He denies all charges against him.

Senard brushed off reports of a deterioration in ties with Nissan, saying, “I don’t see it that way.” Renault owns 43% of Nissan.

The future of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, including making it stronger, is “my only goal,” he said, calling it his “duty” to quickly revive “the spirit of that alliance.”

Senard approved of Nissan’s new, revamped system of governance with committees, cleared last month by shareholders.

Pressed about future changes in the relationship with Nissan, including a merger, Senard insisted it was a matter for the board, which should “consider all the options.”

“The priority is to make sure we get things right in terms of performance,” he said.

Any talk of mergers is sensitive after the Fiat Chrysler proposal of a 50-50 merger — about which Nissan expressed reservations — fell through.

Senard expressed regrets, insisting the merger would have profited both Renault and the alliance.

“Strengthening the alliance for me is hugely important,” he said. “The FCA deal was a way to do so … I have not changed my mind.”

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