Renault is seeking to accelerate its expansion plans with the reopening of merger negotiations with Nissan, before launching a reported takeover bid of Fiat Chrysler.
This is according to the Financial Times, which reports that the French car manufacturer wants to initiate merger discussions within the next 12 months. The news follows the recent formation of an alliance board, led by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, which has improved confidence between the two Fortune 500 firms that a deal could be reached.
Both companies are also looking to restructure their boards, according to the article, with Renault reducing the size of its board and Nissan adding majority outside directors.
A merger between the two companies was discussed two to three years ago, when Carlos Ghosn sat as chairman for both Renault and Nissan – prior to his arrest on charges of financial wrongdoing and subsequent dismissal from both firms. Those proposals were blocked by the French government, according to the FT.
In the meantime, Fiat Chrysler is also seeking a partnership or merger agreement. Chairman John Elkann has reportedly met with other manufacturers regarding the possibility of a deal, including Peugeot-maker PSA Group in France.
Renault, which has a market capitalisation of €17.3bn (£14.7bn), currently owns a 43% stake in Nissan, which in turn has a 15% stake in the French carmaker and has a market value of €35bn (£26.5bn).
Ghosn faces two charges of under-declaring his income over a period of eight years and another charge of seeking to shift personal investment losses onto Nissan. He was arrested on the charges alongside Greg Kelly, an aide to Ghosn and former head of human resources at Nissan.
The Brazilian-born businessman, dubbed ‘Le Cost Saver’, who is currently free on bail pending trial, has denied all of the charges against him.