On Wednesday, the Nikkei newspaper said, Nissan told Renault it was not opposed to Fiat Chrysler merger plan, as the two met to resolve the future of their alliance in an agreement that could upend the vehicle industry.
The leaders of Nissan Motor Co, France's Renault SA and junior partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp gathered at Nissan's head office in Yokohama for a scheduled alliance gathering – one overshadowed by Fiat Chrysler's offer this week for a merger-of-equals with Renault.
The plan, which would make the world's third-biggest carmaker, arouses difficult questions about how Nissan would suitable into a radically changed alliance. On Tuesday, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard arrived in Japan to talk over the suggested tie-up with Nissan, 43.4 percent owned by the French carmaker.
Nikkei quoted an unidentified Nissan source who had attended the conference as saying, “We are not opposed," The unidentified person also said "many details need to be worked out" ahead of the Japanese carmaker solidifies its position on the issue, the Nikkei reported.
In a report, the alliance members confirmed that they had "an open and transparent discussion" on the suggestion. The agreement looks designed to tackle the prices of wide-ranging technological and regulatory changes, including the drive to electric vehicles.
Nissan, which has rejected proposals by Renault for a merger of their own in spite of their 20-year alliance, was blindsided by the deliberations, sources have told a news agency, strengthening worries that an agreement with Fiat Chrysler could deteriorate Nissan's relations with Renault.
The tie-up also poses a further defy for Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, already struggling with substandard financial performance and an edgy relationship with Renault after Nissan led the expelling a year ago of time-honored alliance chairman Carlos Ghosn.
There have long been pressures between Nissan and Renault due to the inequity of power in their alliance. Nissan, the larger firm, holds a 15 percent non-voting stake in the French carmaker, while Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan.
According to Japanese media, before Wednesday's meeting, Saikawa as telling reporters that he would look at the possible chances afforded by a Renault-FCA merger.
Credit ratings agency said it was vital for Nissan to stabilize its partnership with Renault to expand operational synergies and improve margins.
"It is unclear if the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Motors alliance can advance their cooperation without resolving the cross-shareholding issue, which has been source of contention," credit ratings agency’s said in the report, which followed a cut to Nissan's credit rating a week ago.