The Tokyo Stock Exchange suspends trading in Takata shares as reports circulate that the beleaguered airbag manufacturer is planning to file for bankruptcy in Japan and America as early as next week.
Takata Corp, the 84-year-old Japanese company facing billions in liabilities stemming from its defective airbag inflators, is preparing to file for bankruptcy as early as next week sources said on Thursday. Trading in Takata shares was suspended on the news; at its previous close, the company had a market value of $360 million (322 million euros).
Takata is one of the world's biggest automotive suppliers and has been working for months to complete a deal with Michigan-based Key Safety Systems (KSS), which is owned by Chinese supplier Ningbo Joyson.
The Nikkei business daily reported that a new company created under KSS will purchase Takata operations for about 180 billion yen ($1.6 billion) and continue supplying air bags, seat belts and other products, leaving behind liabilities in a separate entity.
The long, bumpy road to bankruptcy
The problems for Takata started in 2008 when they were forced to recall around 100 million airbag inflators around the world which are used in vehicles made by 19 automakers, including Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and Tesla.
The airbags can potentially rupture explosively when deployed in a collision, spraying metal fragments towards drivers as well as passengers.
At least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries have been linked to the defects globally.
In January, Takata agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing and pay a $25 million fine to resolve a U.S. Justice Department investigation. On top of this, the company agreed to pay $125 million to a victims' compensation fund. In the same month, a grand jury indicted three former executives for criminal wrongdoing in connection with the safety defects.
The wider fallout
Earlier this year an American judge said the costs of replacing all of the faulty Takata inflators could be $8 billion. So far though more than 65 percent of the 46.2 million recalled airbag inflators in the United States have not been repaired.
Also at stake is $850 million owed by Takata to major global automakers under a settlement agreed to earlier this year stemming from the automotive industry's largest ever safety recall. The company has until early 2018 to pay or within five days if they secure a financial backer.
According to reports it is expected that the company will first seek bankruptcy protection in Japan; after that its U.S. subsidiary can then file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in America.
tr/kd (Reuters, dpa, Bloomberg)