Bidders for Japan's Takata Corp will meet this month with the carmakers key to its survival to consider options, including a $3 billion bid, at a gathering that could determine the future of the air-bag maker, people familiar with the matter said.
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Takata is seeking a financial investor to help pay for huge liabilities from the world's biggest auto recall, with defective air-bag inflators linked to at least 15 deaths globally when they exploded, spewing shrapnel into passenger compartments.
The meetings of the five bidding groups and the carmakers, who are Takata creditors and customers, are to take place late this month in New York, four people involved or briefed on the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
The bid from Japanese inflator maker Daicel Corp and U.S. buyout firm Bain Capital, for more than 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion), is backed by Takata's steering committee of Japan-based lawyers and consultants, said a person involved in the process and one who was briefed on the matter.
That is the highest bid on the table for Takata, one source said. Automakers asked to meet directly with bidders, the sources said, as differences over whether to put Takata through bankruptcy complicate the discussions. Its $1.1 billion in capital is dwarfed by recall liabilities of some $10 billion, according to industry estimates, let alone potential legal liabilities.
The tussle over bankruptcy is likely to delay by months earlier hopes to name a rescuer this month and complete Takata's restructuring plans this year, sources told Reuters last month.
Bidders also include Sweden's Autoliv, a global rival for Takata in air bags, as well as a partnership between U.S. parts supplier Key Safety Systems and private equity firm Carlyle Group , sources have said.
All five bidders last month presented restructuring plans that would force the air-bag maker to file for bankruptcy protection, people with knowledge of the process have told Reuters.
(Writing by Naomi Tajitsu; Additional reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by William Mallard and Louise Heavens)