Nissan is finally back to profit, but there’s more

This is a clearing, but we are far from stable good weather. The Nissan Group’s 2021 results released yesterday show a €1.6 billion profit, unheard of since 2019. What to rejoice at and what to equal other victorious figures, the Japanese manufacturer took care of this. Turnover? It rose by 18% despite a 4% drop in sales, and operating margin reached 2.9%, which is not high, but exceeds the set targets. However, in Yokohama, the headquarters of the company, we have not uncorked the sake and remain more than modest: downright worried.

Cautious Joy and an Uncertain Future

The commodity crisis, the semiconductor crisis, added to the big Covid resurgence in China, a key market for Nissan, as for all manufacturers, soothes the celebration. So in the tower built in the glory days, where Makoto Uchita sits as the brand’s board, we play it safe, already warning that profits will stagnate in 2022, yet still allowing ourselves a slight 1% gain just to calm the markets. .

The latter rather appreciated this caution, welcoming the announcement of a 4% rise on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. But stock traders are not waiting for Nissan’s promise to reach the 5.3% operating margin that Uchita promised in 2023, which seems rather utopian, but for the results of the summit meeting that is taking place right now at the group’s headquarters.

Jean-Dominique Senard (left) and Luca De Meo (right) are currently in Japan for a pivotal meeting on the future of the Alliance.

Because in Yokohama it’s a turmoil. The Renault group requested this meeting just to talk about big money and the restructuring of the French group. Jean-Dominique Senard, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Luca De Meo, Managing Director, made a trip to meet with their colleagues from the Alliance, in addition, Takao Kato, the boss of Mitsubishi, is also sitting at the table where he will first of all question about the future of the famous triumvirate.

Because the Renault bosses’ intentions are now clear: they want to cut the diamond into two separate pieces. On the one hand, the electrical part, Franco-French, and on the other hand, the purely thermal part, or hybrid, more international. These two separate companies will also have to go public separately, and this is where Alliance, the major shareholder, has his say, while relations between Nissan and Renault have not been good since Ghosn’s case.

Many questions about the future of Renault and the Alliance

What will come of the Yokohama Council? No one knows. According to the Japanese press, the two diamonds would like to persuade their partners to enter the dance capital and the future electric Renault. A few big questions remain. Will they accept the transfer of shares in this new company? And especially, which thermal Renault? If Mitsubishi and Nissan pull out, Renault will have to look elsewhere for funding and missing partners. China’s Geely could be one of them, as it just took 34% of Renault Korea’s capital. First step? In any case, this split and the arrival of new members may have the skin of the Alliance as we have known it for 23 years. The first answer to all these questions should appear at the end of this summit.