TOKYO -- Nissan, Honda and Mazda may join Toyota in seeking emergency loans from the Japanese government as they confront plunging sales and tightening credit.
Up for grabs are new funds -- some freed from Japans enormous foreign reserve stash -- to shore up the overseas operations of the countrys biggest companies, including automakers.
Whatevers available out there from the government, we definitely want to try to access it, Nissan spokeswoman Pauline Kee said today.
Toyota Motor Corp. was first in line. The automaker asked for about ¥200 billion, or about $2.02 billion, for its American lending arm, Toyota Motor Credit Corp., the Nikkei business daily reported.
Officials at Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. confirmed they also may tap government funds. But none has applied. The emergency money is being funneled through the state-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
Compared with their cash-starved American competitors, Japanese automakers have relatively healthy balance sheets. But with credit tightening worldwide, they are more aggressively seeking funds. It is especially difficult for Japanese automaker to get loans overseas.
The Japanese government backs several loan programs to help them.
Japans Finance Ministry has said it will use $5 billion from its $1 trillion foreign currency stockpile to help keep credit flowing. Of Japans major automakers, only Honda predicts a profit for the fiscal year that ends March 31.