Takata Corp. is girding for the worst by selling its shares in various automakers to raise funds for the compensation claims it expects to face for its defective airbags that have caused the recall of more than 24 million vehicles worldwide.
The supplier is selling the stakes with the carmakers’ approval, said Akiko Watanabe, a spokeswoman for the supplier, declining to give more details to Bloomberg News.
The airbags have been tied to 13 deaths, including 10 in the U.S. The units have faulty inflators that can deploy with too much force and the resulting explosion hurls plastic and metal pieces into the vehicle’s passenger cabin.
The recall expanded to include driver and passenger side airbags and could ultimately exceed 100 million units after new demands by safety regulators in the U.S. and Japan. As a result, the supplier has been rumored to be on the verge of bankruptcy, and that was before substantive talks about compensation began
The company sold most of its 2.2 million shares in Honda Motor Co., its largest customer, by late April, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported today.
(Toyota tells dealers not to hide future Takata recalls. For more, Click Here.)
Given the scope of the recall and the potential payouts, it’s unlikely this will be the last sell off. In addition to Honda, Takata has stakes in Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (Subaru), Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. as of March 2015, according to the company’s annual report.
The total ownership stakes are worth about $88 million as of Monday’s closing prices, according to calculations by Bloomberg News.
The move is part of a larger restructuring program for the company, which was drawn up by an external steering committee seated in February. The five-member group, which is negotiating with carmakers on the sharing of the recall costs, hired Lazard Ltd. to look for investors, Bloomberg noted.
(Desperate for cash, Takata seeking buyer. For more on that possible sale, Click Here.)
Takata is following the lead of other automotive companies, most notably Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. VW began marshaling its financial resources in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal that, while still ongoing, is expected to cost the maker several billion dollars.
GM established a victims compensation fund for those who were killed or injured as a result of a its faulty ignitions. For nearly a decade, the automaker ignored warnings about defective ignition switches that could be moved from the power to accessory position cutting off the power steering and airbags to the affected vehicles.
(Senate panel finds Takata lied to conceal airbag problem. Click Here for more.)
More than 125 deaths were attributed to the problem. GM set up a $600 million fund for the families who were killed and injury victims. The automaker is still being sued by victims who elected not to participate in the fund is being investigated by federal safety regulators and the Justice Department.