Renault SA is aiming to restart merger talks with Nissan Motor within 12 months as the first step toward the creation of a bigger auto conglomerate that will involve a bid by both companies for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
The creation of a new alliance board led by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has improved confidence that the two sides can push ahead with merger plans, the newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified people familiar with both sides’ thinking.
A combination of Renault, Nissan, Fiat and Chrysler would create an automaker that could better compete against global competitors such as Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor.
Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Renault and Nissan who was arrested in Tokyo in November on charges of financial wrongdoing, had held talks about merging Renault with Fiat Chrysler two to three years ago, the Financial Times reported, citing two unidentified sources. Ghosn’s proposal was stopped by the French government, the newspaper said.
Ghosn, who is free on bail pending his trial, has denied the charges against him.
Fiat Chrysler itself is seeking a partnership or merger, and Chairman John Elkann has met with other rivals including Peugeotmaker PSA Group of France to gauge the possibility of a deal, the newspaper reported.
Spokesmen for Renault, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on the report. Shares in Renault rose as much as 3.3% in Paris, while Fiat jumped as much as 3.8% in Milan.
The French carmaker, which owns 43% of Nissan, has a market capitalisation of 17.3 billion euros ($19.5 billion). Nissan, which in turn owns 15% of Renault, has a market value of about $35 billion, while Fiat Chrysler’s is 20.4 billion euros.