Akebono Gets Infusion From Private Equity For Turnaround

TOKYO, Japan–Akebono Brake Industry Co Ltd here said on Thursday it will receive about $185 million from a corporate turnaround fund to help restructure its money-losing business, sending its shares sharply higher.

The supplier of brakes to General Motors Co, which makes up about a quarter of Akebono’s sales, and other automakers said it would issue new shares worth 20 billion yen ($185 million) to Japan Industrial Solutions.

Shares of Akebono soared as much as 43% to 166 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, before closing up 8%.

The company also said in a statement that it would book a special loss of 7.8 billion yen ($72 million) in the April-June quarter for quality-related issues.

As part of the turnaround plan, the company said it is planning to downsize its overseas ambitions and ask lenders to substantially forgive its debt.

The Nikkei business daily reported that Akebono plans to seek a debt waiver totalling around 50 billion yen when the company meets its lenders on Monday. Akebono had interest-bearing debt of over 100 billion yen as of March. It’s unclear why debt holders would do that rather than demand a percentage of future earnings.

An Akebono spokesman said nothing has been decided.

Founded in 1929, Akebono manufactures brakes and brake pads for passenger and commercial vehicles, motorcycles, rolling and industrial machinery. It operates plants in Japan, North America, Europe and Asia and generates roughly half of its sales from North America, its biggest market.

Besides General Motors, it supplies Toyota Motor Corp , which owned 11.6 percent of Akebono as of March, Nissan Motor Co and other major automakers.

Akebono’s latest financial woes date back to around 2014, when the company was struggling to fill a surge in orders from customers in the United States, where vehicle sales were climbing to record highs.

The scramble to manufacture more products beyond its production capabilities resulted in additional manufacturing costs, including labor and shipping costs, leading to a three-year run of operating losses in North America. ($1 = 107.7500 yen) (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Richard Pullin and Muralikumar Anantharaman).

Akebono has also lost important business from GM, which has made its U.S. factories under-utilized.

Source: With Reuters.

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