OSAKA (Kyodo) Sanyo Electric Co. shareholders Friday approved plans to reduce the company’s huge debts and endorsed the reappointment of top executives, including Chairwoman Tomoyo Nonaka and President Toshimasa Iue.

The Osaka-based manufacturer of electrical goods and electronics logged its second straight year of heavy losses when it closed its books in March. It said last month that it fell deeper into the red during the last business year, posting a consolidated net loss of 205.66 billion yen.

At the start of the annual shareholders’ meeting, Iue apologized for Sanyo’s dismal performance.

“(The loss) was the result of our efforts to accelerate reforms so that we might regain public trust,” he said.

Some shareholders responded angrily and criticized Sanyo management.

One shareholder complained the financial institutions that agreed to invest in Sanyo were only trying to make sure their investments don’t go sour, instead of thinking about the company’s well-being.

Another asked, “Wouldn’t it be better if (Sanyo) came under the wing of another manufacturer, such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.?”

For Nonaka and Iue, who took up their posts last year, their second year will be judged by whether they can push the company back into profit.

At an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in February, the company won approval to issue 100 billion yen in new preferred shares in an effort to shore up its capital base. But the move also drew fire from some shareholders, who questioned why the new shares were to be issued at well below market value.

Asbestos aid talk

OSAKA (Kyodo) Kubota Corp. President Daisuke Hatakake urged shareholders Friday to acknowledge the machinery maker’s responsibility to provide compensation to people whose health was harmed by asbestos made at its plants.

Asked if Kubota would continue to use shareholders’ equity to pay damages, Hatakake told the annual shareholders meeting, “Kubota has been seriously addressing the (asbestos) problem in an effort to clarify its social responsibility.”

Future compensation payments will not be as large as in the past, he said.

Kubota booked about 3.4 billion yen in extraordinary losses in fiscal 2005, which ended in March, to cover the cost of compensation for victims of asbestos-related illnesses living near its plants.

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