Hammered by the tsunami, the Thai flood and a monster yen, the Japanese car industry is looking back at one of the worst years in modern history. Amazingly, Japan’s top three, Toyota, Nissan and Honda survived the year intact, and are looking at a profit.
Of all Japanese automakers, Mazda is bleeding the most. 70 percent of Mazda’s production is in Japan, and 90 percent is for export. Mazda predicts that it will close the fiscal year on March 31 with a net loss of 100 billion yen ($1.25 billion.) This will be the fourth year of losses for Mazda. On top of all the disasters, Mazda has to digest a painful divorce from Ford which cut into overseas production capacities. In the words of Mazda,
“Its financial standing has temporarily worsened due to rapid changes in its business environment, including the continuing sharp appreciation of the yen since 2011, the unstable economic conditions such as the financial crisis in European countries, as well as large-scale disasters such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and the floods in Thailand.”
How is Mazda going to survive this?
It will sell shares instead of cars.
In order to finance urgent investments, which target 50 percent overseas production by 2016, Mazda announced today that it wants to raise up to $2 billion via a public share offering. This means a haircut for current shareholders to the tune of a massive 69 percent dilution, Reuters says.
Some of the money will go towards building factories in Mexico and Russia, most of it will be spent in Japan. While other automakers are forging alliances to share the cost of research in new and untested technologies, Mazda fights alone. It is betting on optimizing the internal combustion engine with its Skyactiv technology, an exercise in diminishing returns.
50 percent overseas production by 2016 are widely regarded as too little, too late. Nissan and Honda only have 24 percent of global production in Japan, Toyota has 44 percent of its global production in Japan. All of them would like to lower exposure to the yen as quickly as possible.