Staff writerTo expedite its restructuring program, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has revised its earlier plan to reduce the number of employees and interest-bearing liabilities, an executive of MMC said Monday.

MMC will trim the 2 trillion yen interest-bearing liabilities held by its group firms to 1.3 trillion yen by March 2001, MMC Executive Vice President Fumikazu Yokokawa said in an interview. The earlier plan announced in May called for reducing debts to 1.6 trillion yen by that date.

The firm will also seek to reduce the number of workers from the current 13,500 to 12,000 by March 2000, instead of the originally planned target date of March 2001.

MMC’s move reflects the firm’s growing concerns over its weak financial condition and fear of a further downgrade by rating agencies.

Moody’s Investors Service Inc. lowered its long-term debt rating to Baa3 from Baa2 last month, based on MMC’s weak earnings and debt protection measurements. “Unless we implement such stringent targets, Moody’s and other rating agencies will not maintain our current status,” Yokokawa said.

The company is expected to see an unconsolidated pretax loss of 32 billion yen for the first half of this business year, and no pretax profits for the current business year ending March 1999.

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