(Bloomberg) — Renault SA is pushing Nissan Motor Co. to call a shareholder meeting as soon as possible to discuss the Japanese automaker’s indictment, governance and the French company’s appointees on Nissan’s board, people familiar with the matter said.
Nissan’s indictment last week by the Japanese Public Prosecutor’s office creates “significant risks” to Renault as its largest shareholder and to the stability of both companies’ industrial alliance, Renault Deputy Chief Executive Officer Thierry Bollore wrote to Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa on Friday, the people said.
The letter was also sent to the board of Nissan, the CEO of Daimler AG, which has a small cross-ownership holding with Nissan and Renault, and some French government officials, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. A spokesman for Renault declined to comment, and Nissan didn’t respond to a request outside regular business hours.
Nissan’s board is scheduled to meet Monday and the letter asked it to consider calling an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders as promptly as possible, they said. It stressed that a discussion about Renault appointees on the Nissan board and in senior management would be consistent with the companies’ existing agreements.
Tensions in the Franco-Japanese partnership have surfaced since the Nov. 19 arrest of Carlos Ghosn, leaving the alliance without the leader who held the two sides together for decades. Ghosn was indicted in Japan for understating his income after a months-long investigation by Nissan.
Renault’s request for a full shareholder meeting sends another signal on the deepening divide between the partners, who together with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. make almost as many cars as Volkswagen AG, the world’s biggest automaker. A preliminary probe by Renault found last week that Ghosn’s compensation at the French carmaker complied with French law. In stark contrast to events since Nissan’s revelations that shook the auto industry, Ghosn remains as Renault’s chairman.
Renault and Nissan have complicated cross-shareholdings and co-produce a number of vehicles among broader cooperation setups. Poor relations would make operations difficult. The French carmaker is the largest shareholder in Nissan with a 43 percent stake and has voting rights, while the Japanese company is the second-largest shareholder in Renault, with no votes. Nissan is keen to achieve a more equal power balance but its demands have been stonewalled by Renault and the French state.
(Updates with detail on Alliance in last paragraph.)
–With assistance from Ruth David and Ania Nussbaum.
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