TOKYO -- Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Takashi Yamanouchi says the automaker is “actively” seeking alliance partners as it faces an increasingly dire financial future.
His comments came last week after Mazda forecast a net loss of 100 billion yen ($1.29 billion) in the fiscal year that ends March 31, on a 2 percent slide in global sales to 1.25 million units.
That would mark Mazda’s fourth straight year of red ink and its worst showing in 11 years, since a net loss of $2.0 billion in the year ended March 31, 2001.
Mazda, which exports a greater percentage of its vehicles from Japan than any other automaker, has been hit hard by the yen’s continued strength against the dollar and other currencies. The yen’s strength means Mazda repatriates fewer yen in profits on overseas sales.
To counter the yen, Mazda is building a factory in Mexico. It will assemble the Mazda2 and Mazda3 for sale in the United States and Latin America beginning in 2013.
Mazda has been independent since former partner Ford Motor Co., then seeking to raise cash to head off financial woes of its own, sold down its holdings in the Japanese automaker. Ford began to sell off its controlling 33 percent stake in Mazda in 2008, reducing the stake to less than 4 percent in 2010.
In addition, Yamanouchi says raising capital is a “must” for the small Japanese carmaker. Mazda’s debt rating faces a possible downgrade unless the company bolsters its capital, perhaps through the sale of more shares. “We are considering every option,” he said of the hunt for more cash.
In 2009, Mazda raised $1.2 billion of capital through a share sale. It invested much of that money into environmentally friendly technologies such as its recently released Skyactiv line of fuel-efficient engines and lightweight body architectures.
Yamanouchi wants to offer Skyactiv products to other carmakers to attract new partners.