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Nissan may join Renault-Daimler tie-up talks, report says

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Nissan may join Renault-Daimler tie-up talks, report says

March 17, 2010 07:46 CET

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's Nissan Motor Corp. may join talks between Renault SA and Daimler AG, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.

Shares of Renault and Daimler rose after reports that the two car makers are in talks about an equity tie-up as part of a possible longer-term partnership.

Asked about the reports, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is also head of its Japanese alliance partner Nissan, said only that he was open to equity exchanges.

"We are talking with many companies, many partners but I don't want to make any comment on something that is absolutely not decided or something which has absolutely not been the object of any decisions," he said at a company event in India.

Renault holds a 44 percent stake in Nissan.

The Financial Times had said in its Tuesday edition that the two companies were in talks about taking equity stakes in each other to forge long-term cooperation, citing two unnamed sources.

Nissan spokesman Yosuke Nagatomo declined to comment.

Renault and Daimler, maker of Mercedes cars, have made no secret of being in talks about cooperating to cut costs, pool technology resources and build scale as the crisis-hit industry tries to become more efficient.

Ghosn, speaking in Chennai, India, also said the Renault-Nissan alliance was talking to Indian vehicle maker Ashok Leyland about a passenger car project.

Pooling resources

Renault-Nissan lacks top of the line cars, despite attempts with the Safrane, Vel Satis and Korean-built Samsung models, while Mercedes seeks to add smaller cars to its lineup, which includes the A class entry-premium model and the Smart ForTwo minicar.

Sandford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton wrote in a report published on Monday he believed the car makers were discussing a "much wider and formal level of co-operation across products and technologies".

"Sources report Ghosn is trying to persuade Zetsche to join the Renault-Nissan Alliance, via an equity investment or swap, while Zetsche would prefer a simple joint venture," he said

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is reluctant to dive head first into a new pact after a rocky and costly adventure with Chrysler.

Car groups are on the hunt to cut costs by building scale and spreading the load of heavy investments in new technologies, such as hybrid and electric vehicles, over large numbers of cars.

Ghosn has often said that the alliance could be open to a third partner. Renault owns a stake in Russia's AvtoVAZ, maker of the Lada.

Earlier this month at the Geneva auto show Ghosn said the company was talking to many people in the industry.

"The name of the game is scale and co-investments and sharing technologies," he said. "You would be surprised at how many companies we are talking with for collaboration. I think it's not only Renault-Nissan, I think it's the whole industry."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100317/ANE/303179994/1193#ixzz0iRjTohJW

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Did Renault learn nothing from DaimlerChrysler? If this happens, watch for more of the same problems...

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