TOKYO — Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada signaled his intention to step down after the airbag supplier completes a restructuring made necessary by the biggest recall in the history of the automotive industry.
Takada, the grandson of the company’s founder, said Tuesday he will hand off his job to someone else after the company finds a way to overcome its crisis, according to shareholders who attended the company’s annual meeting in Tokyo, which was closed to media. Takada told shareholders he will take responsibility in containing recalls and finding a path to restructure the business, a spokeswoman said.
“I don’t think he handled the issue well,” Morihiro Hashimoto, a 76-year-old shareholder from Kanagawa, said after attending the meeting. “His resignation should be positive for the stock price.”
Takata reversed earlier declines and surged as much as 10% Tuesday after Reuters first reported Takada’s comments on his intention to step down. The shares finished up 2.2% at the close, paring their decline over the past year to 72%.
“If you looked at his attitude, you knew he didn’t mean it when saying he will resign,” Hiroshige Kono, a 75-year-old shareholder from Tokyo, said after attending the meeting. “If you asked me whether I accepted his answers to shareholders, I would say I already gave up on him.”
Takada made comments about his responsibility and determination to work on restructuring the company without clearly saying he’ll resign, said Akiko Watanabe, a company spokeswoman. The comments come as Honda Motor Co., Takata’s largest customer, investigates a possible 15th fatality related to the supplier’s airbag inflators, which can rupture and spray metal shards at vehicle occupants.
The driver of a 2005 Honda City subcompact in the western state of Selangor died after the vehicle’s air-bag inflator ruptured on Sunday, Honda’s Malaysia unit said Monday. The model was included in a May 2015 recall, the company said.
The fatality was the third in three months in a Honda vehicle using Takata inflators in Malaysia. Takata inflators have prompted recalls of more than 100 million airbags worldwide. Ten motorists have died in the U.S., and Honda said in January it was investigating a fatality in India.
By Ma Jie and Masatsugu Horie