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Nissan and Renault unveiled details of their redesigned alliance on Monday, with the Japanese carmaker committing to buy up to a 15% stake in Renault’s electric vehicle unit Ampere.
Collaborative junior partner Mitsubishi Motors will also consider investing in Ampere, which Renault is looking to list, the companies said in a statement.
“Nissan intends to invest up to 15% in Ampere, Renault Group’s EV and software unit in Europe, with the aim of becoming a strategic investor,” the statement said ahead of a presentation in London.
The companies had already announced that the French carmaker would reduce its stake in its Japanese partner from around 43% to 15% as part of a deal to revive their long-standing alliance.
Renault will transfer 28.4% of Nissan’s shares to a French trust, creating two more equal partners in the alliance.
Sources familiar with the matter said that the purpose of this agreement is to make the alliance more independent and more balanced for the next 15 years.
The partnership will produce synergies from joint projects in Europe, India and Latin America, and the companies will work together in Renault’s core EV business, electronics and solid-state batteries.
The statement on Monday said Renault would have the flexibility to sell the Nissan shares held in the trust, but “under no obligation to sell the shares within a specific pre-determined period.”
When it’s sold, “Nissan will benefit from the right of first offer, to it or for the benefit of a designated third party.”
The two companies last month announced a sweeping remake of their 24-year-old automaker alliance, which has been thrown into disarray by the ouster of its architect and former chairman Carlos Ghosn amid a financial scandal.
The announcement came after nearly four months of intense negotiations complicated by concerns about the sharing of intellectual property as Renault sought alliances with companies outside its alliance.
Reno’s board of directors approved the deal on Sunday night. The source said that Nissan’s board also approved it on Monday.
Investors and analysts will be looking for more clarity on how the trust in which Renault will hold the bulk of its Nissan stake will work.
“There’s absolutely no telling what will happen to those shares in the trust,” said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter. “It looks like they are all avoiding the issue of Nissan buying them back which I think would be the best thing for all parties involved.”
Richter said because Renault’s brand is not seen as a strong brand, it may be difficult for the French carmaker to raise money for Ampere.
“I wonder how much money you’ll actually raise once this thing is on the market,” he said.
The uneven relationship between the two carmakers has long been a source of friction among Nissan executives.
While Renault bailed out Nissan two decades ago, it is the smaller automaker by sales.
CLSA’s Richter said the new alliance could enable Nissan and Renault to work together on R&D, share costs and some shared products “with a little less rancor and acrimony between them”, but added that Honda and General motors <जीएम.एन> Formed a partnership that involves jointly developing a low-cost EV without the need for capital tie-up.
“One almost wonders what it means to have any stake in either,” Richter said.