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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Mitsubishi ditches sales chief
Mitsubishi Motors chief Rolf Eckrodt launches the Colt in Geneva
Chief executive Rolf Eckrodt is taking charge of sales
Loss-making Japanese car manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors has said its top overseas sales executive Steven Torok has stepped down from his job.

Chief executive Rolf Eckrodt will take temporary charge of overseas sales, the company said.

Mitsubishi has previously warned that it expects to post losses of 72bn yen ($694) in the year to 31 March following poor North American sales.

It is to reveal its turnaround plans on 30 April.

Mitsubishi, which is 37% owned by DaimlerChrysler, has suffered from falling sales in the US after abandoning a strategy of big discounts and cheap loans - common across the US industry - which proved troublesome as customers failed to repay.

Tough market conditions and the impact of a weaker dollar have also hurt Mitsubishi, according to independent car industry analyst Krish Bhaska.

"The reason Mitsubishi is in such bad shape in north America is basically the slide in the dollar" he told the BBC's World Business Report.

"Mitsubishi imports cars and it imports components, and that means whatever it does now, the slide in the dollar transforms any profit projection into quite a large loss."

Troubles in the spotlight

Speculation about Mitsubishi's troubles and the likely solutions have reached fever pitch in the Japanese press over the last week.

Mitsubishi has denied reports that five of its senior board members, including Mr Eckrodt, would resign. Mr Torok was one of those mentioned.

Mitsubishi is also said to be seeking an injection of tens of billions of yen from the Japan Development Bank, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Friday.

It said Mitsubishi was considering issuing new shares worth about $3bn, and had asked Japan Development Bank to buy some of them.

Other reports have suggested DaimlerChrysler may be approached to inject more funds in exchange for the shares.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia has declined to comment on reports that its South Australia plant may be sold off. The Australian government poured in aid to keep the plant open in 2002 as it provides work for 3,300 staff and another 20,000 in support industries.

"We're not commenting on speculation," said Charles Iles of Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

Mitsubishi gave no reason for Mr Torok's departure, saying only that he would return to DaimlerChrysler.

Krish Bhaska, car industry analyst.
"Mitsubishi is a company in distress."

Mitsubishi racks up huge losses
11 Nov 03  |  Business

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