JAPAN: Mitsubishi downplays German 'takeover'
Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s president Takashi Sonobe has downplayed suggestions that a second-in-command arriving next year from DaimlerChrysler AG will encourage a takeover by the foreign automaker, Associated Press reports. "I am confident [that], as long as we provide DaimlerChrysler with trustworthy technology and products, there is no possibility the current framework of alliance will change,'' Sonobe was quoted as saying.
DaimlerChrysler's Rolf Eckrodt, currently running the company's rail-equipment unit Adtranz, is to join Mitsubishi's Tokyo office in January as chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors, Japan's fourth-largest carmaker.
Industry-watchers have speculated that Eckrodt may restructure Mitsubishi using tough cost-control methods similar to those successfully employed by Brazilian-born Carlos Ghosn who Renault sent to Japan to run Nissan Motor Corp.
Sonobe dismissed suggestions that DaimlerChrysler will eventually take over control of Mitsubishi Motors' management.
"Our employees are not at all worried,'' he was quoted as saying.
Mitsubishi independently plans to complete a draft of reforms by the end of this year and carry them out next April, Sonobe added.
The company will cut the cost of supplies, distribution, marketing and production with the goal of a return to profit next year.
Mitsubishi Motors lost 75.6 billion yen ($US694 million) in the six months to Sept. 30, its worst-ever first-half earnings result. The Mitsubishi Group expects a loss of 140 billion yen ($US1.28 billion) for its latest fiscal year.
Majority shareholder DaimlerChrysler owns a 34-percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors which analysts expect will help the Japanese vehicle manufacturer to boost its current poor European sales rate.
Mitsubishi plans to increase Asia and Middle East exports from its European plants, Sonobe reportedly said.
However, while Nissan and Renault are already planning jointly developed vehicles on common platforms and will soon share truck engines, DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi are only talking about how they will jointly develop and produce cars.
Sonobe reportedly said that Volvo's plans to buy about 20 percent in the Mitsubishi Motors subsidiary Mitsubishi FUSO Truck and Bus Co. next April will not affect the current links with DaimlerChrysler.
DaimlerChrysler will own 27 percent of the new subsidiary while Mitsubishi Motors takes 53 percent.