By Ma Jie and Masatsugu Horie, Bloomberg News
TOKYO (June 17, 2016) — Takata Corp., the embattled airbag maker behind the automotive iondustry's biggest safety recall, said it's selling shares it owns in auto makers to raise funds as the company faces compensation claims for its defective devices.
Takata is selling the stakes with the car makers' approval, said Akiko Watanabe, a spokeswoman for the supplier, declining to give more details. The company had sold many of its 2.2 million shares in Honda Motor Co., its largest customer, by late April, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported.
Besides Honda, Takata also owned shares in Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. as of March 2015, according to the company's annual report. The auto maker shareholdings are worth about $88 million, according to calculations by Bloomberg News based on recent share prices.
The airbag maker appointed an external steering committee in February to draw up a restructuring plan for the company, which potentially is facing billions of dollars in recall costs — the majority of which are being borne by auto makers. The five-member group, which is negotiating with car makers on the sharing of the recall costs, hired Lazard Ltd. to look for investors.
Nissan, Toyota and Mazda declined to comment on Takata's shareholdings in their companies, while representatives for the other auto makers didn't comment.
At least 13 deaths, including 10 in the U.S., have been linked to defective Takata airbag inflators that can deploy too forcefully, rupture and spray plastic and metal parts at drivers and passengers. The number of air bags recalled may exceed 100 million worldwide after regulators' latest demands for expansions in the U.S. and Japan.
This Bloomberg News report appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.