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Renault 'wants partnership with Nissan to succeed'

Paris

RENAULT chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said on Thursday that there was a "real desire" at the helm of the carmaker's alliance with Nissan to make it a success, as he sought to dispel suggestions that the two-decade partnership might be on the rocks.

The Franco-Japanese alliance, long dogged by internal rivalries, was thrown into turmoil by the November 2018 arrest in Tokyo of its architect and long-time boss Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial crimes, which he denies.

Attempts to restore calm have recently been thwarted by Ghosn's dramatic flight from Japanese justice and a series of no-holds-barred allegations he has made from his refuge in Lebanon; he has charged that he is the victim of a plot to oust him and that the alliance is now a "masquerade".

Nissan has vigorously denied any suggestion of a plot, and both the Japanese firm and Renault have rubbished suggestions that their 20-year-old partnership is falling apart.

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"We have a board overseeing the alliance, made up of people who are all extremely in favour of it," Mr Senard told reporters, defending the changes he had made since joining Renault after Ghosn's arrest.

"There is a common desire to associate our strategic plans and a real desire to make this alliance a success," he said. Formerly the one in charge of tyre-maker Michelin, he has become the de facto senior figure in the partnership, though without Ghosn's commander-in-chief aura which had helped hold the alliance together.

While that is partly deliberate - as both parties are keen to avoid another Ghosn-style strongman and have created a four-member operating board to oversee the alliance, for example - Mr Senard will have to deliver on launching joint new projects.

The 66-year-old has said these will move into focus once a management revamp is complete. A new CEO started at Nissan in December, and Renault is looking for a new CEO after ousting Ghosn-ally Thierry Bollore in October.

Analysts view Renault-Nissan's cost-cutting alliance as vital to both companies' fortunes as the car industry battles a slowdown in demand and huge investments in cleaner vehicles and automated driving, particularly as rivals PSA and Fiat Chrysler are merging to help meet these challenges. BLOOMBERG

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