Kirk Kerkorian, the veteran corporate raider who has amassed a near 10 per cent stake in General Motors, has urged the world's biggest car maker to forge an alliance with Renault and Nissan.
News of Mr Kerkorian's initiative sent GM shares racing ahead on Wall Street yesterday on the prospect of a cost-cutting merger between the three giant car companies.
Mr Kerkorian's intervention was disclosed in a regulatory filing by his holding company Tracinda, urging GM to form a committee "to immediately and fully" explore the possibility of a tie-up with Renault-Nissan, both of which are run by Carlos Ghosn.
Under Mr Kerkorian's plan, which he said he had already discussed with Mr Ghosn, Nissan and Renault would buy into GM. The Tracinda letter to GM's chief executive Rick Wagoner said: "It is our understanding that Renault and Nissan are receptive to the concept of including General Motors in their partnership alliance and purchasing from GM a significant minority interest in the company."
Renault and Nissan declined to comment. GM said it had not received any approach from the two car makers but would consider the request from Mr Kerkorian, whose close adviser Jerry York sits on the company's board.
Analysts were surprised by Tracinda's move, which comes in the middle of a massive rationalisation programme by GM involving the closure of 12 plants.
Mr Ghosn is known as "Le Cost Killer" and is credited with turning around Nissan after taking over as chief executive and implementing savage cuts. Mr Kerkorian believes he could bring about the same transformation at GM, which lost $10.6bn (£5.7bn) last year.