Nissan is no longer letting itself be steamrolled by the FCA-Renault merger.
It’s been a little over a week since it was announced that Fiat Chrysler and Renault were in talks about merging to become the world’s third-largest automaker and a force to be reckoned with in the ongoing race for autonomous and electric vehicles. And though the two companies failed to come to an agreement on Tuesday, Renault could approve FCA’s proposal as early as this week.
There are, however, a few things left to sort out, as Reuters tells it. These include demands for job preservation from the French government and complaints that Renault is being undervalued in the deal. But a bigger question still remains: what’s going to happen to Nissan if FCA and its longtime partner, Renault, become a single entity? It’s a complicated one to answer.
For now, it appears that Nissan is along for the ride given that Renault owns a 43.4% stake in the Japanese automaker. Nissan, on the other hand, owns only a 15% stake in Renault, and that’s set to halve if the deal goes through. And though those numbers make it seem like Nissan doesn’t have a choice, that’s not entirely the case.
Nissan's CEO Hiroto Saikawa already mentioned that he doesn’t want FCA to be privy to his company’s autonomous and electric car tech without fair compensation. Now, the CEO is casting doubt on whether Nissan will be involved in the merger at all, saying the company wants to "review” its relationship with Renault because a merger with FCA would "significantly alter” the Nissan-Mitsubishi and Renault alliance. But because the review will look at Nissan’s involvement with an interest in maximum gain for the Japanese automaker, Saikawa isn't writing off the merger altogether, as long as it can provide new opportunities for Nissan to collaborate.
That’s not all, though, because the French government is another big reason for the merger's hold-up. In order to ensure that the consolidation the merger would bring about doesn’t take a toll on blue-collar workers in France, the French government, which is Renault’s largest single shareholder, is demanding a seat on the board of the new company to ensure that it has a say in protecting jobs.
French president Emmanuel Macron is especially sensitive to the needs of his country’s blue-collar workforce after anti-establishment forces, characterized by the yellow vest movement, have threatened his grip on power. So in order to cement its control over the automaker that would result from the merger, France is also asking for a seat on the board that will decide the company's CEO. FCA wants to weaken that seat’s power by removing a proposed rule that would require a unanimous board agreement to elect a CEO.
And though the Italian government has been much less vocal in the process, it recently told Automotive News that it may be interested in taking on a stake of the new combined entity as long as the investment will supply the country with more jobs.
Despite these road bumps, it seems as if the FCA-Renault deal is on the cusp of happening. Whether or not that involves Nissan or a heavy hand from Italy or France remains to be seen.