Nissan and Renault close in on overhaul of alliance

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TOKYO/PARIS - Nissan and Renault are closing in on a sweeping overhaul of their globe-spanning automaking alliance as top executives meet on Thursday for talks to reset the two-decade-old partnership and chart a course for an uncertain electric future.

Leaders of Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Renault SA are meeting via video link for an alliance board meeting, sources previously told . They opted for that format - rather than having Renault CEO Luca de Meo and Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard travel to Japan - because the talks have been progressing well, the sources said.

Renault is looking for the Japanese automaker to invest in its new electric-vehicle business while Nissan wants Renault, its top shareholder, to sell down its roughly 43% stake and put the 23-year alliance on a more equal footing.

The talks have been ongoing for months and have centred particularly on issues such as the sharing of intellectual property. A formal announcement from the companies could come as early as Feb.1, has reported.

The future shape of the Franco-Japanese alliance has implications for both companies as well as their junior partner, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. It also highlights how the immense technological upheaval in the auto industry is forcing companies to both partner and compete with a dizzying number of newcomers and tech firms.

Renault, for instance, has said it will partner with companies from China's Geely Automobile Holdings to semiconductor giant Qualcomm Inc.

Renault is separately working to finalise a deal with Geely and to bring Saudi Arabian state oil producer Aramco in as an investor and partner to develop gasoline engines and hybrid technologies, has reported.

Nissan has been concerned that the technology it has developed while partnered with Renault could leak to the French automaker's partners as it restructures, has reported.

(Reporting by Maki Shiraki and Gilles Guillaume; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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