Takata Corp., the scandal-stricken airbag maker that’s seeking investors, is reaching out to as many as 20 possible buyers in an effort to narrow down a list of suitors, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Japanese supplier is working on a restructuring and is open to a sale to a private equity partner, a parts supplier or a combination, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. One stumbling block to the sale is the liability from the airbag recall, and Takata has been talking to its advisers about how to manage the legal risk, they said.
Buyout firms including Bain Capital, PAG Asia Capital and KKR & Co. were said to have expressed interest in the airbag maker. China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp., which owns Key Safety Systems, also has some interest.
Takata and its investment bank, Lazard Ltd., don’t plan to contact TRW Inc. and Autoliv Inc. because a deal may be difficult to pass due to antitrust concerns, the people said. The company plans to contact private equity firm Blackstone as well as a few big auto-parts companies like Lear Corp., Continental AG of Germany and Japan’s Denso Corp., one of the people said.
“We are not in position to make any comment as we have appointed the external committee to make the optimal restructuring plan for all our stakeholders,” Takata spokeswoman Akiko Watanabe said.
At least 13 deaths, including 10 in the U.S., have been linked to defective Takata airbag inflators that can deploy too forcefully, rupture and spray plastic and metal parts at drivers and passengers. The number of airbags recalled may exceed 100 million worldwide after regulators’ latest demands for expansions in the U.S. and Japan.
The company said it formed a steering committee in February to draw up a restructuring plan in the face of billions in costs due to the recall. Takata then hired Lazard in May and started seeking investors or possible buyers, people familiar with the matter said at the time.
Takata has considered working with its customers to create a fund that would cover future litigation in an attempt to shield a future acquirer from costly lawsuits, said one of the people, but no such fund has been proposed yet. Lazard has been talking with major customers to find ways to restructure Takata and keep supplying parts, one of the people said.