Takata shares suspended over rescue plan report

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TOKYO: Trading in Takata shares was suspended in Tokyo Thursday following a report that two bidders are set to propose court-mediated rescue plans for the airbag maker at the centre of the auto industry’s biggest safety recall.

Sweden’s Autoliv, the world’s leading air bag manufacturer, and a consortium led by US autoparts maker Key Safety Systems, are both expected to present their competing proposals as early as this week, Japan’s leading Nikkei business daily reported.

A court-mediated overhaul is seen as likely to win support from Takata’s customers, which include most of the world’s biggest automakers, after they recalled more than 100 million airbags globally, the Nikkei said.

Takata shares did not trade at the start Thursday as the Tokyo Stock Exchange suspended activity. They closed at 867 yen ($7.50) Wednesday.

The huge recall came after the discovery of a defect in Takata airbags that can cause them to inflate with excessive force, sending metal and plastic shrapnel from the inflator canister hurtling towards drivers and passengers.

The problem has been linked to at least 15 deaths and scores of injuries worldwide.

Thursday’s report in the Nikkei, which did not cite sources, said a committee charged with Takata’s overhaul has been mulling proposals from five possible investors, but that Autoliv and the Key Safety camp are the only candidates remaining.

After consulting with automakers and Takata’s founding family, the committee plans to make a final decision on the proposals as early as February, the story said.