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November 17, 2020

Is Nissan Unloading Mitsubishi?

Two years after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct, insiders at Nissan say discussions are underway which could re-shape the world’s biggest car alliance: the sale of some or all of the Japanese carmaker’s stake at Mitsubishi Motors.

According to a Bloomberg report (via Reuters), Nissan predicts that it’ll take longer for the company to recover from the pandemic-induced economic slowdown. With that, they are taking a broader review of their alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, and that a sale of some or all of their 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi could be a first step.

Sources within Nissan say the carmaker may sell back its shares of Mitsubishi Motors back to one of the group’s companies such as Mitsubishi Corporation. Mitsubishi Corporation already owns 20 percent of Mitsubishi Motors.

While it may re-shape or severe Nissan’s capital ties with Mitsubishi, the alliance may remain intact, at least operationally without the shareholding. This opens the possibility of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault to seek collaboration with other partners.

Both Nissan and Mitsubishi denied the report saying they are committed to the alliance. Releasing this statement:
Recently, there have been speculative international media reports regarding Nissan’s capital relationship with Mitsubishi Motors.

Contrary to the assertions in the articles, there are no plans to change the capital structure with Mitsubishi.

Like “Nissan NEXT”, we understand that Mitsubishi Motors is working on its “Small but Beautiful” business transformation plan which it announced in July. It is essential for each Alliance partner to focus on its core competences and maximize the use of each other’s assets to accomplish its midterm plans.

The basic principle of the Alliance is to work together in areas that are beneficial to each other, for the success of each partner’s brand and growth strategy. The leader / follower scheme announced in May is based on this principle, and it increases product and technology development efficiencies. Using this scheme, Nissan is working together with Mitsubishi Motors not only in developing and manufacturing kei cars, but also in adopting common platforms and powertrains.
It must be remembered that Nissan and Mitsubishi will synergize their global plans into a leader-follower scheme. Under this scheme, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault will run on common platforms—around 80 percent of global products by 2024. This will allow them to deliver innovations to deal with larger forces sweeping the auto industry such as electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology.

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