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Ghosn won't drive VE Commodore

Ambitious: Carlos Ghosn says he doesn't want the top job at GM.

Renault-Nissan and GM to study alliance options but Ghosn doesn't want Wagoner's job

Holden logo19 Jul 2006

GENERAL Motors CEO Rick Wagoner will soon sample Holden's new VE Commodore for himself, but it seems Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn won't.

"I'm not going to run any other third company," Ghosn told the US CNBC cable network last Thursday in response to suggestions a Renault-Nissan alliance with GM may see him take over the reigns of the world's largest car-maker by sales.

"It's not serious," he said of the suggestion. "I'm not interested in his job. I'm interested in and responsible for Nissan and Renault development and results."Either way, the two men formalised an agreement during a Friday dinner meeting in Detroit to enter into a 90-day study to investigate potential savings from a tie-up between the two auto giants.

The meeting follows a move two weeks ago by GM's largest individual shareholder, billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, to go public with a bid to broker an unprecedented alliance that would involve Renault-Nissan claiming a substantial equity stake in GM.

Some reports suggest a serious Renault/Nissan-GM alliance would require the Japanese and French companies to each secure 10 per cent of GM shares.

 center imageLeft: GM boss Rick Wagoner.

The deal would provide Renault-Nissan with much needed North American assembly plants while potentially avoiding damaging plant closures and job cuts for GM.

"Nissan needs capacity in North America - period," said Mr Ghosn previously, adding: "I suspect the stake would be big."A joint statement released by Mr Wagoner and Mr Ghosn following their Friday meeting confirmed the alliance study but was non-committal.

"We had a good discussion today, and are looking forward to having our teams work together to explore our ideas," said the statement. "It is important to let our teams work on this review without distraction and, therefore, we will not be providing further public comments about it at this time."The pair confirmed the study would investigate the possibility of sharing both platforms and parts purchasing, and would be completed by October. But Mr Ghosn earlier said a deal would only be struck if it benefited both parties.

"If not, we will shake hands and return to our battlefield," said Mr Ghosn, who is credited with turning Japan's second biggest car-maker around. Nissan is the world's seventh largest car company, while Renault is the 10th biggest.

Mr Kerkorian, who holds 9.9 per cent of GM shares, said the alliance would deliver important cost-savings to GM, which last year posted a $US10.6 billion loss following high labour costs, slow SUV sales and a shrinking US market share at the hands of imported vehicles.

GM's response has been to close 12 US plants and reduce its hourly workforce by 35,000 workers as part of a cost-cutting plan that's expected to recoup about $US5 billion in savings this year.

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