- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) — The chief executive of Renault and Nissan Motor reassured the Detroit auto world yesterday that his companies have no intention of taking over General Motors, 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,” Mr. 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.”

Mr. Ghosn and Mr. 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 yesterday.

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

“One is a partnership, the other is a merger,” he said, noting that Renault and 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.”

Mr. Ghosn said the purpose of yesterday’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.

He refused to put a time line on the negotiations, but said he was optimistic that they would bear fruit.

“If I was not optimistic, I would not be meeting him,” he said.

GM shares fell 85 cents, or 3 percent, to $27.47 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday.

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