PARIS – At the very least, the removal of Renault CEO Thierry Bollore will help the French carmaker fix its tattered relationship with Nissan.
Further down the road, it could also pave the way for a resurgence of chairman Jean-Dominique Senard's attempt to merge the French carmaker with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The removal of Bollore on Friday by Renault's board, just days after Nissan also elected new leadership, gives the partners another chance to get past their differences and steps out of the shadow of their former leader, Carlos Ghosn.
At Nissan, Bollore was seen as a negative legacy of the Ghosn era, according to people familiar with the matter, and an obstacle to getting his alliance to iron out differences. His departure could also lay the foundations for the French and Japanese car manufacturers to seek wider cooperation.
"Fiat still needs a partner, and Nissan needs help now more than ever," said Tom Narayan, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London.
Senard, speaking to reporters on Friday, Senard avoided being drawn into the topic of an agreement with the FCA, saying that there is currently no proposal on the table. Instead, he justified the decision to replace Bollore with the need to get Nissan's relationship back on track.
"New life in the alliance requires new governance," Senard said. "There is no future for Renault without the alliance."
However, Senard made it clear only last month that he would be open to an FCAdeal return. Getting support from Nissan would be a prerequisite since the Japanese car manufacturer's failure to support a merger in June helped sink the proposal.
An FCA spokesman declined to comment. Nissan spokeswoman Azusa Momose declined to comment on Renault's CEO's shift.
Nissan has said that it seeks more power in their skewed equity partnerships. But that claim has met opposition from Renault and the French government, Renault's main shareholder.
Renault has a 43 percent stake in Nissan with voting rights, while Nissan owns 1