Business / Corporate

Struggling auto parts maker Akebono Brake to close six plants globally

JIJI

Embattled auto parts maker Akebono Brake Industry Co. said Wednesday that it will close six plants at home and abroad to rebuild its business.

The plant closures are part of the company’s turnaround program, which was accepted at a meeting of its creditors the same day. They also approved the firm’s request for ¥56 billion in debt forgiveness to reduce its interest-bearing liabilities.

Akebono Brake will shutter its plant in Soja, Okayama Prefecture, three plants in the United States, and one each in France and Slovakia by the end of June 2024, when the restructuring plan is slated to conclude.

Production at its plant in Kori, Fukushima Prefecture, will be scaled back.

The some 500 workers at the Okayama plant and part of the roughly 300 personnel at the Fukushima factory will be relocated to other bases of the company.

It will also close research and development centers in the U.K. and Germany.

Akebono Brake has been rebuilding itself since January under an out-of-court restructuring process known as alternative dispute resolution. It is slated to receive ¥20 billion in investment from a corporate restructuring fund on Sept. 30 to put the rehabilitation plan into action.

The company hopes to turn its business around by an early date, partly by strengthening sales of high-performance brakes in China where growth in demand is expected.

Akebono Brake will hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting on Sept. 27 to seek approval for the capital replenishment plan as well as the installation of an incoming management team to replace Chairman and President Hisataka Nobumoto and other directors — who will resign to take responsibility for the company’s financial woes.

Yasuhiro Miyaji, a former executive of major motor-maker Nidec Corp., is slated to become the new Akebono Brake president.