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President of troubled Japanese air bag company Takata is ousted

The remains of a Takata air bag module are seen on the dashboard of a 2003 Toyota after the air bag ruptured during the car’s dismantling.
The remains of a Takata air bag module are seen on the dashboard of a 2003 Toyota after the air bag ruptured during the car’s dismantling. Via Bloomberg

Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata, at the center of a global recall crisis, said Wednesday that it had removed its president and that its chairman, a grandson of the company founder, would also take on the role of president, consolidating control over the company.

Takata’s air bags are being recalled over a defect that could cause the bags to rupture violently when deployed in an accident, shooting shrapnel into the cabin instead of protecting the occupants. Eleven automakers have recalled more than 20 million cars worldwide to fix the defect, linked to at least five deaths and dozens of injuries.

The management changes, effective immediately, expanded the role of the chairman, Shigehisa Takada. The company said the changes would help unify its response to the mounting recalls and speed up decision-making.

The Takata board voted to replace Stefan Stocker, who became president last year. He is a Swiss national who joined Takata from the privately held supplier Robert Bosch.

The management reshuffle, though, is unlikely to affect Takata’s response to the crisis. Takada, who preceded Stocker as president, never gave up the title of chief executive and has issued the company’s public statements on the recalls so far.

Neither executive has made a public appearance since a shareholders meeting in June, prompting criticism over the company’s response.

Stocker, hired to oversee Takata’s fast-growing global operations, has largely taken a back seat as the recall crisis mounted. He will remain with the company as a board member, Takata said.

Takada will take a 50 percent pay cut for four months to take responsibility for the air bag recalls, the company said in a separate statement. Stocker and three other senior executives will also take pay cuts for four months, the company said.

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