A crash test dummy sits in a Michigan testing facility Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

Bain, PAG Asia Show Interest in Bidding for Takata

Discussions are still in the early stages and might not lead to formal offers, but they still sent Takata stock soaring as much as 12% in early Tokyo trading.

Bain Capital and PAG Asia Capital are evaluating bids for Takata Corp., joining KKR & Co. among private equity firms with an interest in the Japanese airbag supplier behind a record safety recall, according to people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are at an early stage and might not lead to formal offers, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Takata’s most pressing issues are establishing the extent of its recall liabilities, and persuading carmakers to continue doing business with the company, two aspects that will be key for potential buyers in weighing prospective bids, another person said.

Representatives for Hong Kong-based PAG Asia and Tokyo-based Takata declined to comment. Boston-based Bain didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Takata’s shares jumped as much as 12% and traded 2.6% higher at 439 yen ($4.09) as of 1:08 p.m. in Tokyo trading, while the benchmark Topix index gained 0.3%.

Takata appointed an external steering committee in February to draw up a restructuring plan for the company, which is facing billions of dollars in recall costs, the majority of which are being borne by automakers. The five-member group, which is negotiating with carmakers on the sharing of the recall costs, hired Lazard last month to look for investors.

China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp. is also paying close attention, though it hasn’t had any substantial contact with Takata, spokesman Chen Yang said in an e-mail. Joyson bought airbag maker Key Safety Systems for about $920 million and said Thursday their merger was completed.

Takata is aiming to complete the restructuring by fall and is open to the idea of a joint bid comprising a financial investor and a strategic partner, as automakers have expressed a preference for the new owners to have experience in manufacturing and quality control, according to two people.

Automakers are less likely to be interested in buying Takata, because the airbag supplier sells to multiple carmakers, which would raise concerns about the safeguarding of commercially sensitive information, two people 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 air bags recalled may exceed 100 million worldwide after regulators’ latest demands for expansions in the U.S. and Japan.

By David Welch, Cathy Chan and Shigeru Sato, with assistance from Takahiko Hyuga, Melissa Mittelman, Rita Devlin Marier, Kiel Porter, Yuki Hagiwara and Ma Jie.

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