France says local plants must stay open in Renault-Fiat merger plan

Fiat Chrysler in tie-up talks with Renault: reports

Fiat Chrysler pitched a finely balanced merger of equals to Renault on Monday to tackle the costs of far-reaching technological and regulatory changes by creating the world's third-biggest automaker.

The statement says the merged company would produce 8.7 million vehicles annually and save 5 billion euros for the companies each year by sharing research, purchasing and other activities. There would be no plant closures as a result of the merger, it said.

Also, the new company's structure would dilute Nissan's managerial leverage with 11 total board members of which only one would represent the Japanese brand, as reported by Autonews Europe.

A Renault official said the French automaker will simultaneously hold merger talks with the FCA and Nissan.

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While Fiat Chrysler says the merger with Renault would accommodate the alliance and lead to savings it, it is unclear how the Japanese companies might react in the longer term to being tied to a much larger partner.

Industry shifts toward electric models, along with stricter emissions standards and the development of new technologies for autonomous vehicles, have put increasing pressure on carmakers to consolidate.

As alliance partners, Nissan and its affiliate Mitsubishi would benefit from an estimated 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in annual savings from the merger, FCA said.

But analysts also warned of complications, including Renault's existing alliance with Nissan; the French state's role as Renault's largest shareholder; and potential opposition from politicians and workers in France to any cutbacks. The French company had wanted to merge fully with Nissan until the arrest in Japan of chairman Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct.

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Together, they would be worth nearly 37 billion euros ($40 billion).

The French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, is cautious about the new merger idea.

April 2015 - The French state increases its Renault stake to 19.74% from 15% in a deal created to block efforts by Nissan to increase its influence over Renault. But the fractious relations between Ghosn and FCA's late CEO Sergio Marchionne made constructive merger talks impossible until after Marchionne's sudden death last July, banking sources said.

Nissan found out about Renault's merger talks with Fiat Chrysler just days before they became public, four sources told Reuters, stoking fears at the Japanese auto maker that a deal could further weaken its position in a 20-year alliance with Renault. The combination would create a brand portfolio that would provide full market coverage with a presence in all key segments from luxury/premium brands, such as Maserati and Alfa Romeo, to the strong access brands of Dacia and Lada, and would include the well-known Fiat, Renault, Jeep and Ram brands as well as commercial vehicles.

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Dias said the French government "will certainly be working actively to ensure a strong outcome for the industry in France", which highlights the role for governments to play in the Canadian industry.

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