PARIS -- At the very least, the removal of Renault CEO Thierry Bollore will help the French automaker patch up its tattered relationship with Nissan.
Further down the road, it could also pave the way for a rekindling of Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard's attempt to merge the French automaker with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The removal of Bollore on Friday by Renault's board, just days after Nissan also chose new leadership, gives the partners a fresh chance to get past their differences and step out from the shadow of their former leader, Carlos Ghosn.
At Nissan, Bollore was seen as a negative legacy from the Ghosn era, according to people familiar with the matter, and a hurdle in getting their alliance to iron out differences. His departure may also lay the groundwork for the French and Japanese automakers to seek out 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.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Senard avoided being drawn into the topic of a deal with FCA, saying that for the moment there is no proposal on the table. Instead, he justified the decision to replace Bollore with the need to get relations with Nissan back on track.
"New life into the alliance requires new governance," Senard said. "There is no future for Renault without the alliance."
Yet Senard made clear only last month that he would be open to a FCAdeal coming back. Gaining the support of Nissan would be a prerequisite since the Japanese carmaker’s failure to back 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 change.
Nissan has said it is seeking more power in their lopsided shareholding partnership. But that demand has met resistance from Renault and the French government, Renault's most important shareholder.
Renault has a 43 percent stake in Nissan with voting rights while Nissan owns 15% of the French carmaker without them.