Struggling truck maker Nissan Diesel Motor Co. announced Tuesday a new restructuring plan that calls on Nissan Motor Co. and its three main banks to provide a 106 billion yen bailout.

Nissan Diesel President Iwao Nakamura said the main banks — Mizuho Corporate Bank, Resona Bank and Mizuho Trust and Banking Co. — agreed to swap debts worth 90 billion yen for Nissan Diesel preferred shares.

Nissan Motor — one of Nissan Diesel’s equal-largest shareholders, with a 22.5 percent stake — agreed to forgive 16 billion yen in debts in return for its preferred shares, he said.

The truck maker is now asking French automaker Renault SA, which also holds a 22.5 percent share of the firm, to surrender part of its stake to take responsibility as one of the largest shareholders, Nakamura said.

“This scheme is necessary to stabilize our financial base and make it possible to carry out aggressive strategies,” including expanding Nissan Diesel’s business in China, Nakamura said.

The rescue package will enable Nissan Diesel to slash its interest-bearing debts to 240 billion yen by the March 31 end of the business year, he said.

That would be a reduction from the 387.5 billion yen that stood as of the end of fiscal 2002. The firm hopes to bring its debt load below 200 billion yen by March 31, 2005.

Nissan Diesel and three other domestic makers are competing in Japan’s saturated truck market. Observers believe the deal may trigger industrywide realignment.

Seiji Sugiura, a senior analyst at Nomura Securities Co., said Nissan Diesel might not be able to survive by itself. Possible partners would be among foreign manufacturers such as Swedish Volvo Truck because Japanese makers have already formed partnerships, he said.

Nakamura said that while Nissan Diesel is open to forming alliances with other manufacturers, the firm is not currently considering a partnership with Volvo Truck.

Under the restructuring plan, Nissan Diesel will write off 56 billion yen in special losses in fiscal 2003, including 25 billion yen for retirement-allowance liabilities and 12 billion yen to establish a reserve to pay off unrecoverable loans to its group sales companies.

As a result, Nissan Diesel revised its earnings forecast for the current business year. It now forecasts a consolidated net loss of 44 billion yen, a drastic turnaround from the earlier expected 2 billion yen consolidated net profit.

New Wagon R debuts

Suzuki Motor Corp. debuted its remodeled Wagon R minicar on the domestic market Tuesday, hoping the new version of its flagship product will boost sales.

The new model, which has an engine displacement of 660cc, features a new platform aimed at improving driving performance and features a spacious interior.

“(It) has to compete with small cars (whose engine displacements are from 1,000cc to 1,500cc),” said Suzuki Chairman Osamu Suzuki.

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