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Kobe Steel said to issue safety report as early as next week

[TOKYO] Kobe Steel, embroiled in a faked data scandal, expects to issue a new safety inspection report as early as next week, said a company executive, who asked not to be named as the information isn't public.

The executive said there haven't been any fresh reports of data irregularities. On Friday, the company added nine items to its list of affected products, making 16, and said it was still checking the safety of five of them with customers; the other four it had already deemed safe. The units implicated in the crisis make the steel, copper, aluminum and other materials that account for over half the company's revenue.

The US Department of Justice has asked for documents related to the faked data, but the agency hasn't set a timeline for Kobe's submission and didn't identify specific products in its request, the executive said. The Japanese company has said it will co-operate fully with US authorities.

American companies, including automotive giants Ford Motor and General Motors Co. and the nation's biggest plane maker, Boeing, are among some 500 companies worldwide affected by a supply chain tainted by admissions that Kobe falsified certifications on the strength and durability of metals going back to at least 2007.

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Earnings Due Kobe's management will probably hold talks with its labour unions Thursday, the executive added says, without specifying what will be discussed.

Japan's third-biggest steelmaker reports second-quarter results on Oct 30 and has said it can't yet quantify the impact of the scandal on its earnings.

Shares are down almost 40 per cent in Tokyo since the crisis began to unfold at the start of last week, although there haven't been any reports of product recalls or specific safety concerns raised by its customers.

The stock was 0.2 per cent higher at 829 yen by 9.38am.

Europe's air-safety regulator has recommended that companies using material from Kobe review their supply chains and - if alternative suppliers are available - suspend purchases from the Japanese company. Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc is among the latest firms to say it's studying suppliers to assess its exposure to Kobe products.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also asked the company for a report on the scandal, including causes and remedies.

In other developments, Japanese brokerages have suspended securities linked to Kobe's stock in light of the risks around the company, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Thursday.

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