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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Firestone resignations expected
Campaigner Melinda Evans and a Firestone Wilderness AT16
Campaigners say Firestone tyres have led to dozens of fatal accidents
The recall crisis at US tyre maker Firestone looks set to cost the company's chief executive his job.

The president of Firestone's Japanese parent Bridgestone is also reported to be considering an early exit, as a US probe into the safety of its products widens.

So far, Firestone tyres have been blamed for more than 100 US road deaths.

Most of the accidents are believed to have involved tread separation and blow-outs on tyres fitted to Ford's Explorer sports utility vehicles.

Demotion

Firestone chief executive Masatoshi Ono was said by company sources on Tuesday to be on the brink of being demoted after seven years in the top job. A replacement has yet to be decided.

Bridgestone president Yoichiro Kaizaki told local media he may also be compelled to resign over the crisis, before his eight year term ends next March.

"I had originally planned to step down next March and I still hope to do so. But there are many cases where a scandal led management to resign, so it's unclear what will happen," he told Nikkei Business magazine.

"It depends on future developments," he added.

He was quoted as saying he would ask for Mr Ono's resignation.

At US Senate and House hearings last month, Mr Ono, who is also a Bridgestone executive vice president, accepted personal responsibility for the tyre recall crisis.

Last Friday US investigators said they were widening their probe to look at Firestone's light truck tyres.

Sales drop

Mr Kaizaki warned that the recall crisis could cause Firestone's annual sales to drop by $1.3bn, including $350m in lost sales to Ford.

Bridgestone is one of the world's biggest tyre makers along with Michelin of France. Each held a 19.4% global market share by volume in 1999.

On Tuesday, shares in Bridgestone ended down 3.98% at 1,229 yen ($11.33).

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See also:

29 Sep 00 | Americas
Fresh Firestone probe launched
19 Sep 00 | Business
Continental recalls tyres
01 Sep 00 | Business
US issues tyre warning
10 Aug 00 | Business
Tyre recall extended to Europe
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