updated 7/14/2006 7:07:36 PM ET 2006-07-14T23:07:36

The chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Corp. reassured the Detroit auto world Friday that his companies have no intention of taking over General Motors Corp., the world’s biggest automaker.

Carlos Ghosn also made his strongest statement yet that he wasn’t interested in running GM and that he was committed to his present responsibilities.

“We are not making a bid for General Motors, and we don’t want to do it,” Ghosn told reporters ahead of a scheduled meeting with GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner. “We are not trying to acquire anything; we are trying to partner with other people, which is a different story.”

Ghosn and Wagoner had not spoken in person in the two weeks since billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian disclosed his proposal to have GM join Nissan and Renault’s alliance. Their meeting was scheduled for late Friday.

Speaking in the vaulted glass lobby of Nissan Motor Corp.’s North American Technical Center in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, Ghosn brushed aside comparisons between the proposed alliance with GM and the 1998 linking of Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG.

“One is a partnership, the other is a merger,” he said, noting that France’s Renault and Japan’s Nissan have maintained separate headquarters, separate boards and separate shares. “There is nothing you can build in a successful way for the long term if somehow people are not willing.”

Some analysts have speculated that Kerkorian’s motive in proposing the alliance was to get Ghosn to take over for Wagoner at GM. Ghosn, a Brazilian-born French citizen, is widely admired in the industry and has become a celebrity in Japan thanks to his success in getting Nissan back on its feet.

But when asked Friday if he was interested in running GM, Ghosn began, “If I was out of work ... ,” and was interrupted by laughter and applause from the dozens of reporters and Nissan employees gathered around him.

He said it would be unrealistic to take on a third company.

“I am responsible and accountable for Nissan and for Renault,” he said, adding that he was committed to mid-range plans for both companies. “For the employees and for the shareholders, I’ll be here and I’ll make sure that the two plans will be successful.”

Ghosn said the purpose of Friday’s meeting was to gauge initial interest on both sides and discuss how to proceed in evaluating the proposal. He said he did not think any decisions would be made.

Wagoner and Ghosn have both said they will look for possible synergies from linking the three companies that could save money and help them compete. For example, GM might be able to use its excess capacity to produce vehicles for Nissan, so that the Japanese company does not have to build another plant in the U.S., Ghosn said in a Thursday interview with CNBC.

Some analysts have criticized the idea of expanding the alliance, saying the potential benefits are unclear and the complicated process of meshing three companies could distract GM from its turnaround plan.

Ghosn refused Friday to put a timeline on the negotiations, but said he was optimistic that they would bear fruit.

“If I was not optimistic, I would not be meeting (Wagoner),” he said.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 3.79%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.69%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.83%
Cash Back Cards 17.80%
Rewards Cards 17.18%
Source: Bankrate.com