Takata shares jump on resignation rumor

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TOKYO: Takata shares jumped on Tuesday after the airbag supplier’s boss reportedly said he would resign once the company recovers from a scandal linked to at least 13 deaths and scores of injuries globally.

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The Tokyo-listed stock soared as much as 10 percent in early afternoon trade after chief executive Shigehisa Takada told the annual shareholder meeting that he would step down from his family company, before trimming those gains.

The shares ended 2.17 percent up at 375 yen ($3.70).

“Once I’m convinced the company is back on track, I will pass the baton” to new management, he told the closed meeting, according to Japan’s leading Nikkei business daily.

The company, one of the world’s biggest auto parts suppliers, declined to confirm the remarks.

But shareholders who attended the meeting confirmed Takada agreed to quit once the firm was on solid footing again.

“I don’t think the president is qualified for his post,” a 66-year-old shareholder told reporters outside the meeting.

Takada was widely criticized for his handling of the crisis, rarely appearing in public even as the firm plunged deeper into trouble.

Shareholders at the meeting reported that executives were peppered with angry questions about their response to the scandal, which has sparked the biggest auto industry recall in US history.

Ahead of the meeting, one investor told Agence France-Presse: “They have to put an end to the damage that has been done. I want to hear about management’s thinking on its responsibility.”

Takata is facing lawsuits, investigations and huge compensation costs over a defect that can send metal and plastic shrapnel from the airbag’s inflator canister hurtling toward drivers and passengers when an airbag is deployed.

At least 13 people have died in accidents linked to the defect and scores more have been injured, while the crisis has sparked the recall of some 100 million airbags worldwide.

The Nikkei recently reported that US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) was looking to buy a majority stake in Takata, which reported a 13.08 billion yen net loss in its latest business year.

On Monday, Honda said an airbag made by Takata exploded after a minor crash in Malaysia where the driver was killed after suffering chest injuries.

AFP

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