Nissan, Renault, Daimler in final talks over cross-holding stakes

15:12, March 26, 2010      

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Japan's Nissan Motor Co., France's Renault SA and Germany's Daimler AG are in the final stages of talks to obtain a stake of around 3 percent in each other, local media reported on Friday.

France's Renault SA, which already holds a 44.3 percent stake in Nissan, has been pursuing a partnership with Germany's Daimler for some time, said the reports.

Similarly Toshitake Inoshita, a spokesman for Nissan, declined to comment on the report, calling it "speculation."

However, sources say negotiators are considering stock swaps or other arrangements that limit the need to raise fresh funds and Nissan President Carlos Ghosn, who serves as both president and chief executive officer of Renault, held a meeting on Thursday with other management executives to explain how the capital tie-up talks are progressing, reports stated.

Daimler has maintained since December that it was in talks with various carmakers, including Renault, and has repeatedly said it aimed to announce a partnership for its range of compact cars.

The Renault-Nissan alliance has been around for 11 years and is deemed "solid" by industry insiders, conversely Daimler's tie-ups haven't been overly successful -- highlighted most recently by their departure from Chrysler.

The partnership between Daimler and Renault will most probably revolve around sharing the development costs of compact front wheel drive platforms and engines.

Daimler's top-end Mercedes-Benz needs to spread the development cost of its compact front wheel drive A-Class and B-Class vehicles as well as Smart cars, automotive experts said, adding that it was previously in talks with rivals BMW for the same reason but the potential collaboration failed as both parties ended up feeling it was necessary to have competitive differentiation in that segment of the market that would not be possible if they shared platforms and engines.

The three companies are widely expected to reach a conclusion before Daimler holds a shareholders' meeting on April 14, sources said.

Daimler joining the Renault-Nissan alliance would make the three-way tie-up the world's third-largest automotive group.

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