Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA have agreed to bring their mutual cross-shareholdings equal at 15 percent, the Japanese and French carmakers said Monday, marking a major revamp of the decades-old capital alliance.
Calling the agreement "an important milestone" in their partnership, they said in statements that Renault will cut its 43.4-percent stake in Nissan, while the Japanese automaker maintains its shareholding in its partner and will invest in Ampere, a new electric vehicle company to be established by the French carmaker.
The agreements, set to be formally decided by the carmakers' respective boards, are expected to be announced as early as Feb. 6 in London, sources close to the matter said.
"The ambition is to strengthen the ties of the alliance and maximize value creation for all stakeholders," Nissan said, adding they will also promote the partnership in projects in Latin America, India and Europe.
Renault will retain 15 percent of the 43.4 percent of shares it holds in Nissan and transfer the remaining 28.4 percent to a French trust, where the voting rights will be "neutralized" for most of the decisions, they said.
Until the shares moved to the French trust are sold, Renault will keep the rights to any dividends and proceeds from the sale of shares.
The automakers have been holding talks for several months to review their mutual shareholdings, with Renault Chief Executive Officer Luca de Meo and Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida meeting online on Thursday.
Nissan, which before the new agreement held only a 15 percent stake without voting rights in its smaller French partner, has for years sought a more balanced capital share in the corporate relationship.
Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura welcomed the progress in talks between the two companies.
"We are hoping cooperation will progress further in a manner that relevant parties can fully accept," Nishimura said when he met with Olivier Becht, the French minister in charge of foreign trade, in Tokyo.
The issue of a lopsided capital structure had become a source of friction, with Renault seeking to maintain its influence over the alliance and Nissan wanting to retain its management independence, analysts said.
The two automakers' capital alliance dates back to 1999 when Renault became the top shareholder in Nissan, which was on the cusp of bankruptcy. Carlos Ghosn was sent from Renault to lead the overhaul.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. joined the alliance after Nissan acquired a 34 percent stake in it in 2016.