Four car makers settle claims over Takata inflators for $553 mln


Reuters

UPDATE 3-Four car makers settle claims over Takata inflators for $553 mln


* Toyota, BMW, Mazda, Subaru settle class action claims
    * Takata shares jump after announcement
    * Takata searching for financial sponsor to help meet recall
costs

 (Adds share price move)
    By David Shepardson and Naomi TajitsuWASHINGTON/TOKYO, May 19 (Reuters) - Four automakers agreed
to a $553 million settlement to address class-action economic
loss claims covering owners of nearly 16 million recalled
vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators,
court documents filed on Thursday showed.
    Toyota Motor Corp's <7203.T> share of the settlement costs
is $278.5 million, followed by BMW AG <BMWG.DE> at $131 million,
Mazda Motor Co <7261.T> at $76 million and Subaru Corp <7270.T>
at $68 million.
    While the settlement does not mean an end to legal headaches
faced by Takata Corp <7312.T> or its car maker clients, the
resolution could help the embattled Japanese air bag maker's
efforts to search for a financial sponsor by removing one
litigation uncertainty.
    Shares of Takata, which was not named as a plaintiff in the
case, jumped 20 percent in Tokyo on Friday. Takata has been
searching for more than a year to find a financial sponsor to
pay for costs to replace its inflators which are at the centre
of the auto industry's biggest-ever recall.
    U.S. auto components maker Key Safety Systems (KSS) and
private equity fund Bain Capital are trying to strike a rescue
deal worth around 200 billion yen with Takata's steering
committee and its automaker customers. [nL8N1HA098]
    The settlement highlights the knock-on effect of the
recalls, which began around 2008 and covers around 100 million
inflators around the world used in vehicles made by 19
automakers.
    Takata's inflators can explode with excessive force and
unleash metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks, and are blamed
for at least 16 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide.
    "This is a settlement between us and our customers," said a
Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Mazda.
    Lawsuits against Honda Motor Co <7267.T>, Ford Motor Co
<F.N> and Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> have not been settled,
lawyers said.
    Takata declined to comment on the settlement.
    The four automakers who settled said in a joint statement
they agreed to the deal "given the size, scope and severity of
the Takata recall," but did not admit fault or liability. The
automakers said the settlements, if approved by a Florida judge,
will be overseen by a court-appointed administrator.
    The settlement includes an outreach program to contact
owners; compensation for economic losses including out-of-pocket
expenses; a possible residual distribution payment of up to
$500; rental cars for some owners; and a customer support
program for repairs and adjustments, including an extended
warranty.
    In January, Takata agreed to plead guilty to U.S. charges of
criminal wrongdoing and to pay $1 billion to resolve a federal
investigation into its inflators. The majority of the air
bag-related fatalities and injuries have occurred in the United
States.
    Automakers have recalled 46 million Takata air bag inflators
in 29 million U.S. vehicles. By 2019, automakers will recall 64
million to 69 million U.S. inflators in 42 million vehicles,
regulators said in December. Most inflators have not been fixed.

 (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis,
David Gregorio and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
 ((David.Shepardson@thomsonreuters.com; 2028988324;))

Keywords: AUTOS TAKATA/ (UPDATE 3)



This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Economy
Referenced Symbols: 7201 , 7203 , 7261 , 7267 , 7270


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