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PARIS—Automakers Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have hinted that they may unveil a strategic plan next week to repair their troubled alliance as the coronavirus pandemic lashes the industry.

The three announced on May 19 that they would hold “a joint press conference regarding the progress in Alliance activities” on May 27.

They said in January they planned to deepen cooperation as concerns mounted their alliance would split, and they could unveil which companies would take the lead in certain technologies or regions to cut costs.

The more than 20-year partnership between Nissan and Renault, based on cross-shareholdings without a joint structure, was built by Carlos Ghosn who held senior roles in both companies.

Ghosn turned around Nissan’s fortunes and then helped build the world’s largest automotive group with the addition of Mitsubishi.

Shock arrest

But the alliance was pushed to the brink following Ghosn’s shock arrest in Tokyo in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct, including under-reporting millions of dollars in salary.

All three firms were struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused sales to plunge as governments forced citizens to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus.

Nissan plans to unveil restructuring measures on May 27 at the same time as its results for its 2019-2020 fiscal year, which are expected to show losses.

The day after, it is Renault’s turn, with the automaker having already said in February it aimed to achieve $2.2 billion in savings over three years and did not exclude closing factories.

The French firm is reportedly planning to close four of its factories in France, including one that makes its electric car the Zoe, the Canard Enchaine weekly said on May 19 without citing sources.

Renault registered its first loss in more than a decade last year, its credit rating has been downgraded into junk territory by Standard and Poor’s and it is in line to receive a $5.5 billion loan backed by the French state to help it overcome the crisis.

Ghosn, who denies the financial misconduct charges, fled to Lebanon after being released from a Japanese jail and is being pursued by both Renault and Nissan on civil charges.

French prosecutors are looking into whether he wrongly obtained use of the Palace of Versailles for his lavish 2016 wedding. AFP

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