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France ready to cut Renault stake to support Nissan relationship

Paris

FRANCE is prepared to consider cutting its 15 per cent stake in Renault SA to help shore up the carmaker's alliance with Nissan Motor Co, Agence France-Press reported on Saturday, citing an interview with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.

France is ready to consider reducing its holding if it leads to a "more solid" alliance between the Japanese and French carmakers, Mr Le Maire told AFP at the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Fukuoka, Japan.

France isn't planning an imminent stake sale in Renault, according to a government official asked about Mr Le Maire's comments. Renault should concentrate on forging closer links with Nissan before seeking other alliances, he said. Renault declined to comment and Nissan officials couldn't be reached outside of business hours.

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The comments follow the collapse of discussions between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Renault to form a global car manufacturing powerhouse. The talks ended abruptly earlier last week when Fiat withdrew its offer after France asked for more time to seal the deal as it tried to get the backing of its Japanese partner Nissan.

In an interview in Le Figaro published on Thursday, Mr Le Maire said the long-term goal of the French state isn't to run companies. He also said that "all options could be considered" regarding the French stake in the Japanese carmaker. Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan.

Saturday's remarks from Mr Le Maire seem to go a step further in trying to soothe a rocky relationship with Nissan following a year that saw the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the larger-than-life boss of the alliance. Ghosn was arrested in Japan over misuse of corporate funds. BLOOMBERG