Nissan is finally back to profit, but there’s still a but

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It’s a clearing, but we’re a long way from lasting good weather. The results of the Nissan group for the year 2021, revealed yesterday, show a profit of 1.6 billion euros, unheard of since 2019. What to rejoice and what to align other victorious figures, this that the Japanese manufacturer took care of. Turnover ? It is up 18%, despite a 4% drop in sales, as for the operating margin, it reached 2.9%, which is not huge, but exceeds the objectives set. However, in Yokohama, headquarters of the company, we have not uncorked the sake and we remain more than modest: downright worried.

A cautious joy and an uncertain future

The raw materials crisis, that of semiconductors, added to the big resurgence of Covid in China, a key market for Nissan as for all manufacturers, calms the celebrations. So in the tower built in the days of glory, where the brand’s board sits around Makoto Uchita, we play it cautious, already warning that the profit will stagnate in 2022, nevertheless allowing ourselves a small increase of 1%, just to reassure the markets.

The latter rather appreciated this caution, welcoming the announcement with a 4% increase on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. But stock traders are waiting, not for Nissan’s promise to achieve an operating margin of 5.3% as promised by Uchita in 2023, and which seems rather utopian, but for the results of a 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 crucial meeting on the future of the Alliance.

Because in Yokohama, it’s the commotion. It was the Renault group that requested this meeting, just to talk about big money and restructuring of the French group. Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of the board of directors, and Luca De Meo, managing director, both made the trip to meet their Alliance counterparts, moreover Takao Kato, boss of Mitsubishi is also seated at the table. where it will above all be a question of the future of the famous triumvirate.

Because the intention of the bosses of Renault is now clear: they want to cut the diamond into two distinct entities. On one side the electric part, Franco-French, and on the other, the purely thermal part, or hybridized, more international. These two separate companies will have to go public separately too, and this is where the Alliance, the main shareholder, has its say, while relations between Nissan and Renault have not been good since the case. Ghosn.

Many questions about the future of Renault and that of the Alliance

What will emerge from the Council of Yokohama? Nobody knows. According to the Japanese press, the two men of the diamond would like to persuade their partners to enter the dance and the capital of the future electric Renault. Several big questions remain. Will they accept a transfer of shares to this new company? And especially, what thermal Renault? If Mitsubishi and Nissan refuse to take part, Renault will have to look elsewhere for funding and missing partners. The Chinese Geely could be one of them, since it has just taken 34% of the capital of Renault Korea. A first step? In any case, this split and the arrival of new entrants could have the skin of the Alliance as we have known it for 23 years. A first answer to all these questions should emerge at the end of this summit meeting.