TOKYO -- Takata Corp.’s selection of a bidder is running behind schedule as the shortlisted companies embark on a more thorough review of the airbag maker behind the biggest auto safety recall, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
The successful bidder may only be named sometime in the January-to-March quarter, the people said, asking not to be identified as the negotiations are private. Takata and its financial adviser Lazard Ltd. have asked bidders to complete the due diligence in February, two of the people said. The Tokyo-based manufacturer said last month it was working to find a buyer and finalize its restructuring plan by year-end.
Shares of Takata have gained 49 percent in the past month on speculation the company may secure a buyer by the end of the year.
The airbag maker is leaning toward bids from industry competitors Autoliv Inc. and Key Safety Systems Inc., people familiar with the matter have said. The two gained an edge because both have technical expertise in airbag systems and safety equipment and automakers view them as able to lower costs and improve quality of Takata parts.
Autoliv is based in Sweden while Key Safety is based near Detroit, but owned by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.
In the final round of due diligence, the shortlisted companies will have access to Takata’s detailed business data and technology plans, allowing them to refine their bids, one of the people said.
Representatives for Takata, Autoliv and Key Safety Systems declined to comment on the restructuring schedule. A representative for Lazard wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The eventual winner faces years of replacing Takata airbags linked to at least 17 deaths globally and more than 170 injuries. The buyer will potentially be on the hook for recall costs and other liabilities while having to ensure a stable supply of replacement parts to automakers. Regulators have ordered recalls scheduled through at least 2019 that could eventually exceed 100 million airbags used by more than a dozen automakers, including Honda Motor Co., Volkswagen AG and General Motors.
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