Crain News Service staff and wire reports
DETROIT (Dec. 29, 2014) — Stefan Stocker, the Takata Corp. president who was brought in to inject more transparency and openness into the family-controlled auto supplier, is out after less than two years at the company.
That puts CEO Shigehisa Takada, the 48-year-old grandson of Takata's founder, solely in control of the response to an escalating safety crisis involving airbag defects, which have been linked to five deaths and have led to the recall of more than 24 million vehicles globally. Mr. Takada will reclaim the post of president and will take a 50 percent pay cut for four months in response to the safety crisis, Takata said in a statement.
Takata wouldn't say whether Mr. Stocker had resigned or was dismissed, and a spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement. Mr. Stocker will remain a board member.
Mr. Stocker, 61, came to Takata in February 2013 from the Japanese unit of Robert Bosch GmbH and became president and COO three months later. The Swiss native was the first foreigner, and the first nonfamily member, in the executive suite of the 81-year-old company.
His appointment was seen as a step toward shoring up the company's image. Instead, Takata has come under withering criticism in recent months for its handling of the safety crisis.
Takata now faces dozens of class actions as well as a criminal investigation in the U.S.
Critics have been puzzled by what they see as a muted response from top executives that has shaken confidence in the company's viability. Mr. Stocker's departure has some analysts even more concerned.
“Putting all the management back to the family sounds so negative,” said Edwin Merner, president of Atlantis Investment Research in Tokyo. “As long as they don't have new management, this company won't survive.”
This report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.