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Mitsubishi Motors overseas sales director leaves

Media reports unconfirmed by Mitsubishi Motors say executive VP for overseas sales Steven Torok is stepping down as DaimlerChrysler's trouble-shooting team ponders the cost of turning the firm around.

It is not clear whether Torok will leave immediately, or stay until 30 April, when MMC is due to announce revised 'mid-term' revival plans, resulting from investigations being led by DaimlerChrysler's smart CEO Andreas Renschler.

A year ago, MMC said it had “successfully completed the second year of its turnaround,” and had “achieved all cost-reduction targets set for the turnaround's three-year period.” But the sales of Japan's fourth-largest manufacturer have not allowed cost reductions to improve profitability, and the company has warned it expects to register a Y72bn ($694m) loss for the year to 31 March 2004.

Yesterday MMC North America reported March US sales 2.8% down year on year at 20,416 units, though 5,980 Galant model sales represented a 38% increase over a year earlier. MMC NA has instituted a ten-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty on all 2004 models as part of an effort to rebuild sales in MMC's mopst important export market.

The Financial Times suggests that while smart CEO Andreas Renschler is a likely candidate to replace Rolf Eckrodt as MMC's CEO, Eckrodt's resignation is unlikely to be demanded by DaimlerChrysler, which owns 37% of Mitsubishi Motors, and may wind up with more if the cost of rescuing MMC amounts to the Y300bn ($2.89bn) reported. On the other hand, the FT reported today that one unnamed source put the chances of DaimlerChrysler injecting any such volume of fresh capital as no more than 50%.

Mitsubishi Motors is meanwhile reported to be negotiating with the Development Bank of Japan for a further Y100bn of long-term, low-interest loans to pay off part of its short-term debt.

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