September 8, 2016 / 12:02 PM / 3 years ago

Japan's Takata to take bids from seven potential rescuers on September 19 - sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Takata Corp 7312.T will take initial bids from seven potential rescuers on Sept. 19, as the Japanese air bag maker at the heart of the auto industry’s biggest-ever global recall fights for survival, two people with direct knowledge of the process said.

A sign with the TAKATA logo is seen outside the Takata Corporation building in Auburn Hills, Michigan May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

Potential investors, including Japanese chemical maker Daicel Corp (4202.T), China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic (600699.SS) - the parent of Michigan-based air bag maker Key Safety Systems - and global funds KKR & Co (KKR.N) and Bain Capital LP will each present turnaround plans to investment bank Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N), the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity, as the process is private.

Lazard is advising the search for outside investors.

Takata is looking for a lifeline as it faces potentially billions of dollars in liabilities for faulty air bag inflators, which have been linked to at least 14 deaths worldwide after the volatile chemical compound used in their propellant can explode violently, spraying metal shrapnel inside vehicle compartments.

Takata, Lazard, Daicel and Bain had no comment. KKR and Ningbo could not immediately be reached.

A steering committee overseeing Takata’s restructuring aims to narrow the list of suitors to two finalists early next month, making progress on a bailout which it plans to finalize by the end of the year, the sources said.

The steering committee also had no comment for this article.

Last month, Reuters reported that six or seven companies had been shortlisted by Takata and that it hoped to reduce the list to two final bidders by mid-September. [nL3N1B73L4]

As many as 30 entities showed initial interest in rescuing the company as of June.

Takata needs a financial backer to help overhaul its business and carry ballooning costs. Its stock price has crumbled almost 90 percent since early 2014.

Takata has stayed afloat as its air bag liabilities remain unresolved. And many Japanese car makers depend on the supplier, one of the three dominant global makers of safety air bags, to keep supplying the recalls and provide competition.

Takata’s timeline may prove ambitious.

A big challenge will be reaching consensus among the supplier’s more than 10 automaker customers over a restructuring plan, as they are likely to have different ideas of how important it is to keep Takata afloat, analysts say.

Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu, Emi Emoto and Junko Fujita; Editing by William Mallard and Mike Collett-White

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