YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – Tuesday's Nissan Motor threw cold water hoping for a quick solution to its strained relations with France's Renault SA, and said the inequality between its partners could tear its two-decade old automation alliance.
FILE PHOTO: Nissan's President and CEO Hiroto Saikawa attends a news conference at his global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, December 17, 2018. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon / Filfoto
Speaking at Nissan's Secretary General's meeting in Yokohama, the first Since the dramatic confusion of former president Carlos Ghosn last year, CEO Hiroto Saikawa said he wanted to preserve the spirit of equality in the alliance – despite a stockholding structure that Nissan has long seen.
Tuesday's meeting comes just days after the two parties resolved a highly publicized disagreement between Saikawa and Renault's chairman Jean-Dominique Senard over agreements with Nissan's newly established board committees.
"We want a win-win relationship with Renault. The Alliance has been successful so far because we have respected each other's independence," Saikawa said.
"If necessary, we will put our capital structure on the table. If the relationship becomes a winning loss, the relationship will break up very quickly. "
His remarks are some of the strongest in recent memory of the alliance and signal Nissan's deeper concern over the relationship.
" Our priority is to restore our performance, which means we should discuss the discussion of the future of the alliance, " Saikawa told the shareholders.
"It is important to create opportunities in the future with Renault to discuss opportunities for the alliance. I will discuss these with Senard. "
Shareholders of Japan's second largest automaker voted for a new governance structure and 11-member governance, after Ghosn was arrested last year for financial default charges – which he denies – revealed auditing issues at the company.
Renault, Nissan's largest shareholder 43.4% of the Japanese automaker had demanded additional representation for their board members at the Nissan groups overseeing company audits and personnel appointments.  Saikawa had initially pushed back these demands, but last week Nissan got the seat of Senard. and Renault's CEO Thierry Bollore on his nominations and audit committees.
Although that maneuver helped to withdraw the Nissan-Renault alliance from the crisis – and perhaps rescued Saikawa's job – the former Ghosn rival now faces the unenviable task to try to vomit the strained partnership.
Nissan shareholders Tuesday right also sacked Saikawa to the board of the automaker, as expected. Reappointment sees him encourage opposition from proxy advisors.
In a rare public prosecution from international proxy companies against the leader of a top Japanese firm, International Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis earlier this month urged Nissan shareholders to vote against appointing Saikawa as director.
Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by David Dolan and Christopher Cushing