September 26, 2016 / 8:52 AM / 3 years ago

Takata's search for a savior could drag into next year: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - The plan to sell beleaguered Takata Corp 7312.T to a rescuer, slated by year-end, is likely to extend into next year as some bidders want to drag the air bag maker through bankruptcy to wipe out most of its debt, people with knowledge of the matter said.

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

But creditors such as Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) are likely to resist any bailout that includes bankruptcy because they would have to swallow significant losses, the people said.

The ensuing tussle could take months to resolve, the people said, declining to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Takata faces about 1 trillion yen ($10 billion) in costs to recall potentially faulty air bag inflators worldwide, according to market estimates. There is also the prospect of legal liabilities related to the inflators which have been linked to at least 14 deaths, mainly in the United States.

The firm received bailout bids from five groups last week. Its steering committee hopes to name a sponsor next month and complete restructuring plans by December, the people said.

But that timeline is overly ambitious, they said, given the need to agree on how to share the losses among Takata’s many stakeholders, which include creditors and both Japanese and foreign automakers.

A spokesman representing Takata’s steering committee declined to comment.

Moreover, an investor is unlikely to be confirmed unless Takata files for bankruptcy, which would establish the extent of liabilities, one of the people said.

Bidders include Japanese inflator maker Daicel Corp (4202.T) in partnership with U.S. buyout firm Bain Capital, and U.S. air bag maker Key Safety Systems which is likely to team up with U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group LP (CG.O), the people said. U.S. buyout firm KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) has also bid, they said.

Automakers including Honda and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) have recalled vehicles containing more than 100 million Takata inflators after it was discovered that a chemical compound in their propellant can explode.

Takata needs an investor to help overhaul its business and shoulder ballooning costs related to the recall. Its stock has tumbled nearly 90 percent since early 2014, when the problems first spread.

Takata’s steering committee has retained investment bank Lazard Ltd (LAZ.N) as advisor in its search for an investor.

The people with knowledge of the matter said one means of securing an investor would be to wipe out current shareholders by devaluing equities to zero and allowing the sponsor to control 100 percent of Takata.

Lawyers specializing in corporate restructuring, who are not involved in the Takata deal, said such a scenario would be easier if the company seeks bankruptcy.

Reporting by Junko Fujita and Taro Fuse; Additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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