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Renault chairman denies split with Nissan on the cards

Jill Petzinger
·Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Chairman of Renault SA Jean-Dominique Senard attends a news conference at French carmaker Renault headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Chairman of Renault Jean-Dominique Senard has denied that the French carmaker’s alliance with Nissan is on the rocks. Photo: Charles Platiau/Reuters

The chairman of Renault (RNO.PA) has denied that the French carmaker’s alliance with Nissan (NSANY) is on the rocks, in the wake of rumours that the car companies were on the verge of severing their 20-year partnership.

In an interview (link in French) with Belgian newspaper L’Echo published Monday, Jean-Philippe Senard said that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance was “solid, robust, anything but dead.”

There has been much speculation about the future of the alliance, which ramped up after its former chairman Carlos Ghosn dramatically jumped bail from house arrest in Tokyo in December and fled to Lebanon.

Ghosn attacked Nissan in his lengthy press conference in Beirut last week, accusing the company of plotting a coup against him in collusion with the Japanese prosecutor.

He said the plot against him was based on Nissan’s declining performance in early 2017, and blamed former CEO Hiroto Saikawa for that. “Some of our Japanese friends thought the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan was to get rid of me,” he said.

READ MORE: Carlos Ghosn rips into Nissan and Japan's legal system comparing his arrest to 'Pearl Harbor'

In his interview with L’Echo, Senard denied recent media reports that Nissan was looking to extricate itself from the cost-sharing partnership with Renault. The Financial Times and Bloomberg cited sources saying that Nissan has been weighing up the possibility of going it alone in terms of manufacturing and engineering for quite some time.

Senard said the Financial Times report had “no connection with the actual reality of the alliance.” He added that he had never seen so much harmony between the different leaders of the three groups and that this would move the alliance in the right direction. “We will not fail to demonstrate this in a public way soon,” he added.

Nissan said in a statement that it was “in no way considering” dissolving the alliance, adding that the alliance “is the source of Nissan’s competitiveness.” Renault, which rescued Nissan in 1999, is also its largest shareholder.

Both Renault and Nissan shares plunged to multi-year lows this week on reports that the alliance could shatter.