Lazard in control as momentum builds for Takata solution: source

Fri Jun 10, 2016 4:24am EDT
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By Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) - Lazard is driving financial restructuring talks for Takata Corp, with the Japanese air bag maker's founding family now firmly in the back seat, a person briefed on the process told Reuters.

Takata, at the centre of the auto industry's biggest safety recall, said two weeks ago that its steering committee had hired the U.S. financial services firm to lead the restructuring process. Since coming in, Lazard has taken control from Takata's board and the Takada family, which have struggled to make much headway in talks with automaker customers, said the person, who did not want to be named because of the private nature of the discussions.

"Now they have an international player driving the process, communicating with the automakers won't be an issue," the person said. "If it had been four friends of CEO Shigehisa Takada, sitting around in a Tokyo boardroom, the OEMs (automakers) would never accept that."

"Even though you're not going to have every automaker delighted with the outcome, there is a very strong sense now that they can achieve an outcome," the person added.

Both Takata and Lazard declined to comment.

Potential investors who have emerged since Lazard was brought in include private equity fund KKR and Chinese auto supplier Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.

More than 100 million vehicles worldwide have been recalled over faulty Takata air bag inflators that are linked to 13 deaths and more than 100 injuries. New recalls are being announced on a near weekly basis.

To date, automakers that use air bags from Takata, one of three major global suppliers, have paid for the cost of the recalls as Takata has yet to agree on what is the root cause of the fault with its bag inflators.   Continued...

The logo of Takata Corp is seen on its display at a showroom for vehicles in Tokyo, Japan, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo