FRANKFURT -- Phoenix Capital wants to become Mitsubishi Motors Corp's top shareholder, but a slump in the ailing carmaker's stock could jeopardize its support, the investment fund's boss told a newspaper for a story Wednesday.
"From now on, though, should very extraordinary events lead to a fall in the share price to 120 yen, I am not sure whether we could still invest 100 yen per share in the company," Phoenix Chief Executive Yasushi Ando said in an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper.
Shares in Mitsubishi Motors, which in May secured a $4 billion bailout from shareholders including Phoenix and other members of the Mitsubishi group, closed down one percent at 199 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Phoenix, whose planned 100 billion yen ($910 million) investment would lift its stake to about 40 percent, will "seize the initiative" in restructuring MMC and believes a pure investor must lead the revamp so as to win back market confidence, Ando told the paper.
His aim is to reorganize the company and sell the stake for a profit within three to five years, the paper reported, adding that he had promised his backers a return of 10 to 15 percent.
Ando did not rule out reducing Mitsubishi Motors' model range or even pulling out of making small cars altogether, the newspaper reported.
Under fellow shareholder DaimlerChrysler, which declined to take part in the bailout, MMC had been forced to make small cars such as the Colt, Ando said, adding that in the future the company should refocus on off-road vehicles and sports cars.
"Thus the company can become very profitable again."
DaimlerChrysler, whose stake in Mitsubishi Motors is set to shrink from 37 percent to around 22 to 23 percent, had not necessarily done a bad job, Ando said, but it had destroyed any independent, decision-making structure.
"Everybody was just looking towards Germany. We must therefore rebuild the decision-making structure," he said.