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Airbag giant Takata soars after volatile week for troubled firm

2017-06-23 11:09

SLIPPERY SLOPE: Shares in embattled airbag maker Takata soared more than 40% on June 23 after collapsing over the past week on bets that the crisis-hit firm will file for bankruptcy next week. Image: AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi

Tokyo - Shares in embattled airbag maker Takata soared more than 40% on Friday, after collapsing over the past week on bets that the crisis-hit firm will file for bankruptcy next week.

The Tokyo-based car parts giant, at the centre of the auto industry's biggest ever safety recall, crashed over the previous four days, losing three quarters of its value.

16 deaths

The sell-off was driven by reports that Takata, which is facing lawsuits and huge costs over an airbag defect linked to at least 16 deaths globally, will file for bankruptcy and sell its assets to a US firm.

Takata has not confirmed it will apply for bankruptcy, saying earlier that "no decision has been made".

The embattled stock soared 45% to its daily gain limit of 160 yen in morning trade.

But analysts said most of the movement is speculative trading among short-term investors hoping to profit from share price fluctuations, and shifting their positions ahead of the weekend.

"The company hasn't made a filing yet so if you stretch your imagination it's possible we could see some more news during the weekend that could boost the stock," said Toshihiko Matsuno, chief strategist at SMBC Friend Securities, adding that Takata's automaker clients will reportedly continue to give the hard-hit firm financial support.

"That also contributed to buying back of the shares."

Watch: Takata's exploding airbags

Nobuyuki Fujimoto, senior market analyst at SBI Securities, added: "The buyers are probably betting that the bankruptcy filing reports are not true... There are always courageous people."

Takata's huge losses stemmed from a report last week by Japan's Nikkei business daily saying the company, with liabilities exceeding one trillion yen ($9-billion), would make a formal decision about the bankruptcy filing at a board meeting this month.

US autoparts company to step in

Some other media have made similar reports, saying Takata's automaker clients were supporting the bankruptcy plan.

On Wednesday, Jiji Press and other media reported the airbag maker will file for bankruptcy protection on Monday (June 19). 

American autoparts maker Key Safety Systems, owned by China's Ningbo Joyson Electronic, will reportedly take over Takata. Its US division is also expected to file for bankruptcy.

Family sues Honda, Takata over airbag defect

Nearly 100-million cars, including about 70-million in the United States, were subject to the airbag recall linked to a risk they could improperly inflate and rupture, potentially firing deadly shrapnel at the occupants.

The ultimate cause of the malfunctions has not yet been identified but three factors are suspected: a chemical component, ammonium nitrate, that responds poorly to humidity; extreme climatic conditions, such as heat and high humidity; and faulty design. 

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