- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

1:51 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — Automakers Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. are interested in purchasing a significant stake in General Motors Corp. and including the struggling Detroit company in their alliance, according to a letter sent today to GM from billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian’s investment company.

Shares of GM increased $1.20, or 4.4 percent, to $28.64 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange after the news.

The letter from Mr. Kerkorian’s investment company, Tracinda Corp., said the company believes Renault and Nissan are receptive to the idea of including General Motors in their partnership and purchasing “a significant minority interest” in the Detroit automaker.

Tracinda, a large minority shareholder in GM, said the existing French-Japanese partnership has created “tremendous engineering, manufacturing and marketing synergies, resulting in substantial benefits and cost savings to both Renault and Nissan.”

Tracinda urged GM’s board to form a committee to “immediately and fully explore this opportunity together with management,” as it thinks the alliance could help GM “realize substantial synergies and cost savings and thereby greatly benefit the company and enhance shareholder value.”

GM, in a statement, said the Tracinda request “will be taken under advisement” by its board of directors. The automaker said it has not received any offers or proposals from Renault/Nissan about an alliance. GM said it would have no further comment.

Tracinda owns 9.9 percent of GM’s common stock and is GM’s third-largest shareholder. Mr. Kerkorian has pressured GM to take aggressive steps to restore profitability, and his top aide, Jerome York, was elected to GM’s board earlier this year.

The letter also indicates that Tracinda has reached out to Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer and Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn to alert them to its contact with General Motors.

In a separate letter advising Mr. Schweitzer and Mr. Ghosn of the GM correspondence, Tracinda noted that “as we recently discussed with Mr. Ghosn, Tracinda believes that General Motors, Renault and Nissan should explore a three-company, partnership-based alliance.”

Officials with Renault and Nissan declined comment.

Renault owns a 44.4 percent stake in Nissan, which, in turn, owns a 15 percent stake in Renault. Nissan was on the brink of bankruptcy when Mr. Ghosn was dispatched by Renault to lead the Japanese company in 1999. The Brazilian-born Mr. Ghosn engineered a cost-cutting and morale-boosting campaign that revived the automaker.

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