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No need to merge, Nissan CEO says

December 12, 2006|From the Associated Press

ATSUGI, JAPAN — Nissan Motor Co. is under no pressure to merge with a new partner, but will do so if an appropriate opportunity arises, Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said today.

His comments follow scuttled talks between Nissan, Renault and General Motors Corp. on a merger that would have produced an automotive juggernaut spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia.

"We're not at the level of the biggest, but we can compete fairly well," Ghosn said of Nissan's current status. "I don't think that adding a third partner is a necessity when you already have a scale like this."

Nissan formed an alliance with France's Renault in 1999. Ghosn held open the possibility of a further merger, but said it would depend on other factors. He did not name any potential candidates.

"It's more a question of opportunity," he said.

In early October, GM torpedoed three months of negotiations with Renault and Nissan. The talks ended when GM sought payment from the other two companies for what it said would have been a disproportionate share of the benefits of an alliance.

Separately, Nissan said it would develop its own hybrid technology in a vehicle it expected to introduce in 2010. The company also announced plans to launch a next-generation fuel-cell vehicle in the early 2010s in Japan and North America as part of its midterm environmental strategy.

Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga said at a Tokyo news conference outlining the company's Nissan Green Program 2010 that it would introduce gasoline engine technologies that would enhance fuel economy and at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to diesel engine levels.

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