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Renault CEO: Would Be Interested In Volvo At Right Price

PARIS June 23, 2003; Dow Jones reports that Renault S.A. Chairman Louis Schweitzer said Monday that his company might be interested in a merger with Sweden's Volvo "if the price were right."

Schweitzer stressed, however, that there are no talks between the two car manufacturers at present and that, in any case, Ford has no intention of selling Volvo. He stressed that he was answering a hypothetical question, adding, "I don't know anybody who wouldn't buy a car manufacturer that's profitable" so long as the price is right.

Renault and Volvo were in an alliance several years ago but it broke down because of strategy differences. Renault still retains a 20% stake in Volvo, however.

"I believe that when something is up for sale, it generally becomes known," Schweitzer said. The executive was speaking on the sidelines of a conference organized by Automotive News Europe.

Schweitzer reaffirmed his view that his company might re-enter the U.S. market as soon as 2010. "I am not planning to re-enter the U.S. market, but from 2010 in could make sense. from 2010 onward," he said, noting that the U.S. market is more profitable for car makers generally than Europe.

Schweitzer said re-entering the U.S. market would cost at least $4 billion-$5 billion, although he noted that because of Renault's alliance with Nissan Motor Co. the cost might be reduced, as Nissan already has a substantial dealership network in place.

The Renault executive also said that market incentives to customers are generally less in Europe than in the U.S. because inventories are lower and manufacturers are more flexible.