2 December 2019
Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi are to appoint a general secretary to oversee their alliance in another step to get the faltering collaboration back on track.
The three companies have also agreed to launch new alliance projects to regain the momentum of their partnership, which has faltered this year following the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn and subsequent infighting between the two biggest partners, Renault and Nissan.
At a meeting, board members all agreed on programs ‘to significantly enhance and accelerate the operational efficiency of the Alliance for the benefit of the three companies, including action plans to maximise the contribution of the Alliance to support each company’s strategic plan and operating profit,’ according to a statement.
The new general secretary will report to the alliance board and the chief executives of the three carmakers. The position has yet to be filled but the Alliance will make a statement about the appointment in due course.
‘This Alliance executive will be key for coordinating and facilitating several major Alliance projects that are to be launched to accelerate business efficiencies for the respective companies,’ the statement continued.
The Financial Times newspaper reports that the appointment is likely to be internal.
Since Ghosn’s arrest, both carmakers have made great efforts to re-establish their alliance, although the path has not been smooth. Nissan’s disapproval of a potential merger between Fiat Chrysler and Renault added to the collapse of talks and left the door open for its domestic rival PSA Group to tie up an agreement, moving it ahead of Renault’s sales and market share in Europe.
Meanwhile, Nissan is to focus on rebuilding the alliance between itself and Renault, rather than continuing to demand a fairer ownership structure between the two carmakers, according to its new CEO.
Renault holds a 43% voting stake in Nissan while the Japanese partner holds a 15% stake in the French group with no voting rights; an imbalance that stems from the French company’s rescue of its Japanese counterpart from bankruptcy in 1999.
In his first news conference since taking the CEO position, Makoto Uchida said Nissan was committed to its 20-year partnership with the French group. ‘I am not holding any discussions on capital structure at the moment,’ Uchida said. ‘Both Renault and Nissan are struggling with earnings. In the near term, the priority is in finding how the alliance can contribute to each of the companies in raising their revenue and profits.’
The sentiment is shared by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. ‘My obsession is for the alliance to take off in 2020,’ he told France Inter radio in October.
‘If, by 2020, we don't manage to start extracting... all the potential of this alliance, I'll consider it to be a failure, on a personal level and by our teams.’
Uchida did not give details on his plans to reinvigorate the carmaker, which is struggling with profitability and sales, but has left the door open to re-examining the current turnaround proposal that will see 12,500 jobs and several plants cut globally.