[NEW YORK] Takata Corp, whose defective airbag inflators triggered the biggest recall in auto industry history, hired law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP to help it weigh options that could include bankruptcy or a sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The Japanese manufacturer might choose to seek court protection just for its US unit, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. No final decisions have been made and Tokyo-based Takata continues to seek buyers, the people said.
Jared Levy, an outside spokesman for Takata, declined to comment, and Amy Fantini at Weil Gotshal didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Takata is evaluating at least five bids as it confronts the potentially massive cost of recalling 100 million faulty airbag inflators worldwide and lawsuits tied to at least 16 deaths and numerous injuries. The airbags tend to degrade over time and erupt, sending shrapnel through the vehicle's cabin.
The company hired Lazard Ltd earlier this year as its financial adviser to pursue strategic options including a sale. All of the suitors have proposed bankruptcy proceedings as one option for Takata, with airbag makers Autoliv Inc and Key Safety Systems Inc insisting on that in their bids, a person familiar with the process said last month.
Additional offers came from Daicel Corp and Bain Capital LP, and others from buyout firm KKR & Co and bumper supplier Flex-N-Gate Corp, the person said.
Takata's customers, which include General Motors Co, Honda Motor Co and Volkswagen AG, are tied to the outcome because they could face partial responsibility for billions of dollars in recall costs and potential legal liabilities.
Automakers have been reluctant to help pay Takata's legal bills, but they also want to ensure a steady supply of airbags, seat belts and other components.
The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Weil Gotshal had been hired as a legal adviser.