PARIS, (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault (RENA.PA) will sell a 5% stake in Nissan (7201.T) back to the Japanese group in the first stage of a planned reduction of its holding as the two automakers rebalance their long-standing alliance, both companies said on Tuesday.
The move, which Renault said will reflect a loss on its initial investment of up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.62 billion), will be the first tranche of a series of share sales by Renault to reduce its Nissan stake to 15% from around 43%.
To do so, it has placed a 28.4% in a trust and is expected to sell down that holding gradually. Nissan, which has a right of first offer on the shares, will buy back the 5% stake.
Renault and Nissan finalised at the end of July the terms of a restructuring of their alliance after months of negotiations, aiming for a downsized, but more pragmatic and agile partnership. Both companies aim to have cross-shareholdings of 15% as part of the alliance agreement.
The sale of shares worth an estimated 765 million euros will be carried out on Wednesday, Renault said. The 1.5 billion euro capital loss will hit the firm’s net result for the year, but will not affect its operating income.
As of end-2022, Renault valued the 43.4% Nissan stake on its books at 17.5 billion euros, while Nissan as a whole has a current market value of just over 15 billion euros.
Renault shares were down 2% in Paris by 0957 GMT.
The sale of the Nissan stake, which Renault hopes will help it regain an investment grade rating, is part of a broader overhaul at the French company that also includes the planned market listing of its electric vehicle unit Ampere next year.
Bernstein analysts said selling the 28% Nissan stake could improve Renault’s cash balance by up to 4.2 billion euros at current market prices, and should boost investors’ confidence that the company has enough cash to execute on its strategy.
Nissan said in a separate statement it would cancel the shares it is buying back from Renault.
The Japanese automaker said the acquisition cost will amount to an estimated 119.95 billion yen ($824.85 million). It added it would fund the transaction by using its net cash position.
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Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Silvia Aloisi and Louise Heavens