As Takata air bag recall toll mounts, focus shifts to risks to family control

lunes 17 de noviembre de 2014 17:00 GYT

By Mari Saito and Emi Emoto

TOKYO Nov 18 (Reuters) - As Takata Corp comes under scrutiny for air bag defects, bankers are weighing up the potential fallout for the Japanese family behind the 81-year-old company, and the third-generation CEO who controls it.

As one reference for what Takata may face, Toyota Motor paid at least $2.6 billion over a U.S. recall crisis four years ago linked to four deaths, all in one car. Defective Takata air bags have been linked to five deaths; four in the United States and one in Malaysia of a pregnant woman.

Bankers with relationships with Takata are brainstorming financing proposals - though not yet with Takata directly - as recall costs increase and lawsuits loom. Raising new capital could threaten the control of the Takada family, potentially boosting governance and oversight.

The Takada family holds about 59 percent of the world's No. 2 air bag inflator maker, but a 60 percent drop in the company's share price this year - knocking $750 million off the value of the family-controlled investment - means it would take just $150 million of fresh equity to dilute that holding to below half.

"Some of my fund clients are calling to see whether we can arrange meetings with the company," said one investment banker, who asked not to be named. "They're willing to inject equity."