France is prepared to consider cutting its 15% stake in Renault SA to help shore up the carmaker's alliance with Nissan Motor Co., Agence France-Press reported Saturday, citing an interview with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire. "This is not a problem as long as, at the end of the process, we have a more solid auto sector and a more solid alliance between the two great vehicle manufacturers Nissan and Renault", Le Maire said.
Analysts say it would be hard and costly for Nissan to break away from Renault as the companies, partnering for two decades under Ghosn's leadership, share auto parts, research and investments.
A spokesman for Renault contacted by AFP had no comment. "This is not a problem as long as, at the end of the process, we have a more solid auto sector and a more solid alliance between the two great vehicle manufacturers Nissan and Renault", the minister told AFP.More news: Juan Mata offered new deal as Manchester United reveals released list
Nissan also appears to have been largely left in the dark on the merger discussions between Renault and Fiat Chrysler, which had attempted to join forces to create the world's third-largest automaker before talks fell apart last week. The suspect expenses include air travel fees, gifts to non-profit organizations and "certain other expenses" incurred for Ghosn, Renault said. "You can not criticise the state for fulfiling its obligations", he added.
The French government says it is willing to reduce its stake in Renault in an effort to consolidate the vehicle manufacturer's partnership with Nissan.
Renault is the dominant partner in terms of the capital structure - owning 43 percent of Nissan - but the Japanese firm has outsold its French ally in recent years, sparking complaints that the balance of power was no longer fair.More news: Ruptured testicle puts Mariners' Mitch Haniger on IL
The two companies have struggled to fix their relationship after Ghosn's arrest exposed simmering tensions, including Nissan's long-held concerns about the alliance's capital structure.
Things need to be done "in the right order".
"Otherwise, everything risks collapsing like a house of cards", he warned.More news: Maurizio Sarri Reportedly Set To Sign 3-Year Deal With Juventus
Ghosn's French lawyers say Renault compiled the audit without getting Ghosn's input or response to the allegations.