Nissan pushes partner Renault to sell down stake, may raise funds -source

Oct 8 (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) is urging French partner Renault SA (RENA.PA) to reduce its stake in the Japanese automaker as much as possible, ideally to 15%, and may consider to raise funds to buy back shares, a source familiar with the matter said.

The demands were made in exchange for Nissan agreeing to invest in Renault’s new unit being set up to house its electric vehicle (EV) assets, said the source, who sought anonymity as the talks are not public.

Renault owns about 43% of Nissan, which wants its French ally to reduce its stake to 15%, level with Nissan’s stake in the alliance partner, the source said.

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The stake sale would not affect their business alliance and Nissan may need to raise funds to buy back shares from Renault, the source added.

A Nissan spokesman declined to comment. Renault did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The sales talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg news agency said Renault was ready to reduce its stake in Nissan, citing people familiar with the talks.

Renault is pushing ahead with plans to split up its electric vehicle and combustion engine businesses to join the likes of Tesla (TSLA.O) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) in the race for cleaner driving.

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It expects to present a detailed blueprint for the new EV unit at a capital markets day this fall.

As negotiations intensify, Renault boss Luca de Meo will be present at the Formula 1 race in Suzuka on Sunday, giving him the opportunity to speak to fellow Nissan officer Makoto Uchida, another source said.

Talks this weekend are unlikely to yield any concrete results, the first source said, but negotiations could result in an agreement before November 8 if de Meo plans to present an update on his strategy.

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Alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi (7211.T) have not yet said whether they will participate in Renault’s future EV unit.

The source said Mitsubishi is also considering taking a single-digit percentage stake in Renault’s EV unit.

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Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Satoshi Sugiyama in Tokyo, Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Paris; Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Ana Nicolaci da Costa

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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