updated 7/5/2006 1:27:36 PM ET 2006-07-05T17:27:36

Talks with ailing U.S. automaker General Motors planned by Nissan and Renault will focus on purchasing parts together and sharing environment and safety technologies, a major Japanese newspaper reported Wednesday.

Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, which are in an alliance and headed by the same chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, will set up teams to study possible partnerships with General Motors Corp., including holding stakes in each other, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

Nissan spokeswoman Mia Nielsen declined to comment on the report, calling it speculative. The report did not cite sources, which is customary in Japanese newspapers.

Reaction to the potential for a Renault-Nissan-GM alliance has been mixed, with some doubting whether Renault-Nissan would have much to gain by taking on GM, whose share of the U.S. market has been shrinking.

Cost-cutting by purchasing auto parts together was one of the main tasks Ghosn tackled in leading a turnaround at Nissan, Japan’s No. 2 automaker, since being sent in by Renault in 1999, when the Renault-Nissan alliance was formed. Renault owns a 44.4 percent stake in Nissan, which in turn owns a 15 percent stake in Renault.

Collaboration on technology is relatively common among automakers that may work as rivals in other areas.

General Motors is working on an ecological technology called hybrid with DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW. Nissan is working on its own hybrid technology, but it also licenses the technology from Toyota for its hybrid vehicles. Hybrid cars get better mileage because they switch between a gasoline engine and an electric motor.

On Tuesday, French Industry Minister Francois Loos said in an interview with i-Tele television that France “should be extremely cautious.” The French state holds about 15 percent of Renault.

Ghosn was approached by Kirk Kerkorian, a major shareholder in GM, and his investment company Tracinda Corp. to assess GM’s joining the Renault-Nissan alliance, according to Nissan.

The board of Renault and Nissan authorized Ghosn Monday to begin negotiations with GM, if the GM board agrees.

The GM board will meet Friday discuss a possible tie-up, French business paper Les Echos reported.

Detroit-based GM has embarked on a turnaround plan in North America amid declining profits, high labor costs and growing competition from Asian automakers.

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