July 18, 2019 / 10:28 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Renault's Senard expects Nissan's new board to embrace alliance

(Adds Renault chairman comments, details, background)

PARIS, July 18 (Reuters) - Renault is confident that alliance partner Nissan's new board will work to reinforce their partnership as it struggles to turn the page on the Carlos Ghosn scandal, Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard said on Thursday.

Nissan shareholders last month approved the appointment of a new board at the Japanese carmaker with a more international profile as well as Senard and his Renault Chief Executive Thierry Bollore.

"There is a change," Senard told reporters in a briefing at Renault headquarters. "We have a new board that is conscious of its fiduciary duty. Let that board work."

Speaking to the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris, Senard expressed confidence that Nissan directors would see alliance cooperation as essential in the face of challenges facing the auto industry. "Necessity sometimes helps," he said.

Senard, appointed in January to replace an absent Ghosn - now awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges he denies - has had a turbulent first six months at Renault's helm.

Alliance relations, already strained by Ghosn's arrest, were further tested by Senard's failed attempts first to secure a full Renault-Nissan merger and later to combine Renault with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), a move thwarted by the French state.

Renault currently owns 43.4% of Nissan, whose 15% reciprocal stake in its French parent carries no voting rights.

While insisting the focus now was on alliance operations, Senard stopped short of ruling out either a full Renault-Nissan merger or a revival of deal talks with FCA .

"I'm not pushing anything," the Renault chairman said, but added: "If the board is conscious about its role, it will have to consider all the options."

Confronted with trade risks and the investment demands of electrification and autonomous driving, "anything that can bring synergies and cash flow is good", he said.

No tie-up talks with FCA are ongoing as of today, Senard also said - while making clear he would still support a revived deal. "Everyone has the right to dream." (Reporting by Laurence Frost. Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)

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