updated 10/5/2006 8:13:16 AM ET 2006-10-05T12:13:16

The Renault-Nissan car alliance is still interested in finding a North American partner after a snub by General Motors Corp. with Ford Motor Co. emerging as an obvious candidate.

“We remain convinced that the Renault-Nissan alliance could be extended to work with additional partners,” Nissan spokeswoman Mia Nielsen told Reuters on Thursday when asked whether the companies would now talk to Ford.

“From a strategic perspective and under the right conditions a North American partner could make sense,” she said.

A car industry source said it was unlikely Renault and Nissan would rush into talks with Ford, as this would be the last option for a deal with a Big Three company as Chrysler has already been absorbed by DaimlerChrysler. Renault had no comment.

The GM talks had been hastened by an opportunity created by billionaire Kirk Kerkorian who has a 9.9 percent stake in GM via the Tracinda investment firm.

“For the Nissan-Renault alliance to be able to remain competitive against Toyota they need to be present on the North American market with a significant market share,” said CSFB analyst Harald Hendrikse.

“And on the American market there are only two candidates -- GM or Ford,” he said, adding that the decision by GM not to continue alliance talks with the Franco-Japanese grouping was perhaps short-sighted because of long-term benefits, but the Detroit-based group had more choices for candidates for a global pact than Renault-Nissan for the North American market.

Nielsen said the seven-year-old Renault-Nissan alliance continued to be successful without the participation of a third alliance partner and that it was premature to comment further on any speculation on potential discussions with other auto makers.

On Wednesday, Ford had no comment on speculation that it could open talks with Renault-Nissan.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. has acknowledged an earlier bid to hire Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who is highly regarded for his success in turning around Nissan.

Ghosn has drawn up business plans for both companies to lift margins and sales by stepping up model launches and entering in new market segments.

But he has made no secret of his longer-term ambition to see Renault return on the U.S. market as global car group seeking to be active on all big markets as well as the growth markets of China, India, Russia and Brazil.

Nissan is already present in the U.S. but needs to strengthen its position to fight back fierce competition.

Global parts sourcing, the free flow of ideas between markets and the use of common parts and systems for a large number of vehicles, would allow a wider car alliance to cut costs and offer a richer range of car models.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said on Wednesday the automaker’s 12-member board voted unanimously on Tuesday to reject a deal with Renault-Nissan that GM believed would have generated bigger savings for the other companies.

“What played out is the value was heavily skewed to Renault-Nissan,” Wagoner told reporters. “When you added it up, it wasn’t good value for GM shareholders.”

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.


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