TOKYO -- A proposal is being floated at Nissan for the company to revive efforts to push Renault to reduce its stake in the Japanese automaker and help balance the partnership, a person familiar with the matter said.
The plan would involve both companies cutting their cross shareholdings and would call for the automakers to use the funds for joint technology investments that could bolster their alliance, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters.
It's still early days for the proposal and details such as the timing of any stake sale are undecided, the person said.
For Nissan, an agreement could help bring it a step closer to the independence sought by some executives who have long criticized the lopsided relationship.
Renault may be under more pressure to sell in the face of slumping sales, and automakers around the globe are facing a shift toward electrification and automated driving that will require billions of dollars of investments, even as they face shrinking car markets.
Azusa Momose, a spokeswoman for Nissan, said there are no plans for discussions over reducing stakes. A spokesman for Renault declined to comment and pointed to two interviews given by Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard in Davos, where he dismissed talk of shareholding changes.
Nissan and Renault's two-decade alliance, which also added Mitsubishi Motors in 2016, was jolted by the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in November 2018.
The French automaker owns about 43 percent of Nissan, while the Japanese manufacturer only holds 15 percent of Renault and zero voting rights. Any significant changes to their shareholdings would also run the risk of raising questions over the viability of the three-way alliance.
While the asymmetrical relationship has stoked resentment in Japan, drawing down Nissan and Renault's equity stakes in each other would ultimately strengthen the partnership through a more balanced relationship and focus on new technologies, the person said.