Le Maire: Renault stake reduction a long-term goal

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In an unusally public display of anger, Hiroto Saikawa, 65, Nissan's chief executive, denounced Renault's stance as "most regrettable". "Nissan finds Renault's new stance on this matter most regrettable, as such a stance runs counter to the company's efforts to improve its corporate governance".

Sources indicate Nissan could back the merger if it can convince Renault to reduce its shareholding.

Ghosn's French lawyers say Renault compiled the audit without getting Ghosn's input or response to the allegations.

The source said Senard's letter was motivated by concern about Renault's under-representation on the new Nissan board committees being introduced following the November arrest of their former chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is now awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges he denies. "As now proposed, this does not seem to be the case". "First the alliance (between Nissan and Renault) should be consolidated and then consolidation (more generally) and not one before the other". "Based closely on these recommendations, Nissan's board voted unanimously to strengthen corporate governance by transitioning from a company with statutory auditors to a company with three statutory committees", said the CEO.

Le Maire's comments, made during his G-20 trip to Fukuoka, Japan at the weekend, come amid strained ties between Renault and its partner, Nissan Motor.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is ready to cut the government's 15% stake in Renault to consolidate the carmaker's partnership with Nissan, Agence France-Presse reported on June 8.

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The source added that even if Renault blocked the committees, Nissan would still try and go ahead and set up similar governance structures, and try to make them as binding as possible.

On Sunday, French newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Fiat managers informed French authorities on their interest in Renault during the Christmas holidays.

"We are preparing for the shareholder meeting and will discuss necessary issues at the appropriate time".

A second proposal to help win Nissan's approval would see the Japanese automaker granted a call option to increase its 7.5% voting stake in the merged FCA Renault.

In March a Nissan-appointed outside team recommended the formation of the three committees to improve its corporate governance.

Nissan wants to introduce several governance committees meant to improve oversight and, it says, prevent the financial misconduct allegedly committed by the alliance's former chief Carlos Ghosn, now awaiting trial in Tokyo. The Japanese government has also played its part - including by intervening to defend Nissan's independence from Renault a year ago.

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