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Akebono Brake sees $174m annual loss due to US troubles

Toyota supplier's shareholder equity drops into the red as creditors grant reprieve

Poor performance in the U.S. has left Japan's Akebono Brake Industry in dire financial straits. (Photo by Wataru Ito)

TOKYO -- Japan's Akebono Brake Industry now expects a net loss of 19.2 billion yen ($174 million) for the fiscal year ending in March as the poor U.S. performance necessitated an asset write-down.

The new forecast released Tuesday marks a sharp downgrade from the previous projection of a 2 billion yen profit. The Toyota Motor-affiliated brakemaker also reported a 17.7 billion yen net loss for the nine months through December, down from a 2.3 billion yen profit a year earlier. It cited 15 billion yen in impairment losses on equipment in the U.S., Slovakia and Thailand.

The grim outlook throws the company's plight into sharp relief. Akebono filed last month for an out-of-court debt resolution process and asked creditors for debt relief. The company's shareholders' equity fell to negative 4.9 billion yen as of the end of December.

"We're not thinking of withdrawing from our U.S. business, but we'll adjust staffing levels at four plants," Chief Financial Officer Yoshimasa Ogino told reporters. "We'll also consider adjustments to nonregular staff at Japanese plants."

Also on Tuesday, Akebono held its first meeting with creditors under the turnaround process and outlined its restructuring plan. The creditors agreed to put loan repayments on hold, and two more meetings will be held April 8 and June 11 to finalize the plan.

Chairman and President Hisataka Nobumoto apologized at the start of Tuesday's meeting. "Responsibility for our current condition lies with me as the head of the company," he said.

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