Representatives of the French state, visiting this week in Tokyo, urged Japan to consider a merger between Renault and Nissan, two months after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, Japanese media Sunday reported.
The French state is Renault's largest shareholder, with 15.01% of the capital. Nissan holds 15%, but without voting rights in general meeting.
Renault controls 43% of Nissan, which it saved from bankruptcy almost 20 years ago. Nissan also owns 34% of Mitsubishi Motors, the latest addition to the alliance born in 1999.
In this turbulent context, several emissaries of the French government dispatched to Tokyo met on Wednesday and Thursday with protagonists of the Renault-Nissan file.
The participants included Martin Vial, Director General of the State Investment Agency (APE), and Emmanuel Moulin, Chief of Staff to the Minister of the Economy and Finance, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
It was during a meeting with Japanese officials in Tokyo that this delegation put on the table the request for a merger, reports Sunday the Kyodo news agency, which quotes sources familiar with the matter.
The trail of a merger is favored by French President Emmanuel Macron, says Kyodo.
The Japanese business daily Nikkei also reports on the French delegation's request for a merger, stating that Nissan is opposed to giving greater influence to Paris on its future.
The boss of the Japanese manufacturer is openly opposed to such a scenario. Contacted by AFP, Nissan declined to comment.
The French state has officially dropped this week Carlos Ghosn and asked the appointment of a successor in the coming days to take the lead of Renault.
Detained in Japan since November 19, Carlos Ghosn should soon lose his last title, that of CEO of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi having removed him from the position of chairman of the board of directors at the end of November.
Nikkei reported Sunday that the French delegation also said that Renault wanted to appoint the next president of Nissan.
In an interview with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in early December on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, Mr. Macron reiterated his commitment that the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance be "preserved as well as the stability of the group".
For his part, Mr. Abe had wished "the maintenance of a stable relationship" between the companies of the two countries, describing the automobile alliance as "symbol of industrial cooperation between Japan and France".
But the future of the group should be decided by "companies" and "governments should not commit" on the future operation of the alliance, had also stressed Mr. Abe.