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Renault and Nissan will be open to closer ties, and maybe even a full merger, if the French government sells its holding in the French car maker, said chief executive of both companies Carlos Ghosn.
The two car groups are currently twinned in a global alliance that sees them own shares in each other and share some manufacturing and back office functions.
Speaking as Renault reported record sales and profits, Mr Ghosn said that the companies will not consolidate their shares further until France completely exits its 19.74 per cent stake in Renault.
“The day the French state decides to get out, everything is open,” he said. “The Japanese will never accept to be part of an entity where the French state will be a shareholder of Japanese assets.”
A major dispute over voting rights in 2015 saw the French government agree to limit its use of shares that double its voting power, except in cases involving a potential takeover or decisions that affect France, after a standoff between the groups that lasted for several months.
Mr Ghosn described the episode as a “soap opera”, and said it had convinced the Japanese group that it could never accept ownership from the French government, he added.