Mazda Motor Corp. (7261), Japan’s most unprofitable major carmaker, plans to offer buyouts to U.S. employees and may make mandatory job cuts as earnings are hit by exchange rate pressure.
Employees of Mazda’s U.S. unit in Irvine, California, will be notified next week of buyout options, said Jeremy Barnes, a spokesman for the company. Dismissals are possible as a next step if too few workers leave voluntarily, he said.
“It’s a result of the global headwinds we are facing,” Barnes said. He declined to say how large a reduction Hiroshima, Japan-based Mazda seeks. The company has 701 U.S. employees.
The decision comes even as Mazda’s U.S. sales are surging this year, up 48 percent through February. The company is Japan’s most export-reliant carmaker and has forecast a 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion) annual loss after the yen appreciated against all major currencies during 2011. Mazda said last year that it plans to stop making Mazda6 sedans at a Flat Rock, Michigan, plant shared with Ford Motor Co. (F)
Unlike larger rivals Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., which have North American plants, Mazda hasn’t been able to shift production outside of Japan to moderate currency losses. The company this week said it plans to raise as much as 151.2 billion yen in a record share sale to replenish capital as it braces for its biggest annual loss in 11 years.
Mazda’s plan for U.S. job cuts was reported earlier by Automotive News, a trade publication.
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