TOKYO - Nissan Diesel Motor Co. has laid out a sweeping restructuring plan that includes slashing employment, closing a factory and cutting its truck lineup.
The plan may serve only to make the truckmaker a more attractive takeover target. Nissan Motor Co. has been in talks with DaimlerChrysler AG about selling its 40 percent stake in the Japanese truckmaker to the German-U.S. concern. Nissan Diesel President Hirofumi Nakazawa denied, though, that the plan was formulated with the sale of the company in mind.
He said he expects the restructuring plan to save the truckmaker ¥150 billion, or about $1.3 billion at current exchange rates, over three fiscal years beginning April 1.
The restructuring intensifies a structural reform plan laid out last October. At the time, the company said it planned to cut staffing by 2,500 from the current 11,000. The latest plan raises the targeted reduction to 3,000, to be achieved by March 2001.
The new plan aims to make Nissan Diesel profitable even if home-market demand for heavy trucks drops to 80,000 and Nissan Diesel is only able to export 10,000 trucks a year.
Last year, sales of Japan-built medium- and heavy-duty trucks in Japan dropped 36 percent to 84,514, the lowest level in more than 20 years. Nissan Diesel holds the smallest market share of Japan's four major truckmakers, 18.8 percent.
In addition, truck exports have slumped as economies declined in Southeast Asia, Japan's leading truck market. In 1998, Nissan Diesel's exports dropped 34 percent to 13,901.
In the fiscal year ending March 31, Nissan Diesel is projecting a parent-only net loss of $79.6 million, much worse than last year's $11.5 million loss.
In a related development, Nissan Motor said it will slash hiring in the year beginning April 1, 2000, to a mere 150 new employees. That will be down from the 1,077 who entered Nissan in April 1998 and the 1,197 scheduled to enter the company in April 1999.
Nissan, which expects to post its sixth group loss in seven years this fiscal year, also said it will sell a 20 percent stake in seat and interior-trim maker Ikeda Bussan Co. for about $17.7 million. The sale is the latest of several as Nissan dismantles its formerly tight-knit keiretsu grouping of suppliers by reducing its capital stakes in those suppliers.