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Mitsubishi Motors seeks 56% sales growth by 2013

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Mitsubishi Motors seeks 56% sales growth by 2013

Automotive News Europe -- June 8, 2010 13:16 CET

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Mitsubishi Motors Corp aims to announce by the end of 2010 how it plans to get billions of dollars in preferred shares off its balance sheet, and will unveil a growth plan for a 56 percent jump in vehicle sales at the same time, its president said on Tuesday.

Japan's sixth-biggest automaker has suffered a sharp slide in sales in recent years and many analysts have dropped its stock from their coverage due to the unresolved issue of more than 400 billion yen ($4.4 billion) of unredeemed preferred shares issued mostly to the Mitsubishi group.

President Osamu Masuko, who has been tight-lipped about how Mitsubishi Motors would deal with the shares, said converting them to common stock, selling them through a third-party allocation, buying them back, or a combination of these steps were the only options available to the company.

"I want to be able to talk about it by the end of the year," said Masuko, who took his post in 2005 after a successful career at sister trading firm Mitsubishi Corp.

He added, however, that the shaky global economy and financial markets could get in the way.

"If these conditions continue, it might be difficult to wrap up a decision by year-end," he told Reuters in an interview.

Converting all the preferred shares to common stock would result in a massive dilution of Mitsubishi Motors shares, adding more than 3.5 billion shares to the current 5.5 billion.

In part to prepare for the possibility of releasing at least some of the preferred shares, Masuko said he also aimed to communicate the company's roadmap for growth by the end of 2010 to entice potential buyers.

Electric cars and emerging markets

The growth strategy would rely on two pillars, he said: Mitsubishi's strength in environmental technology through its electric car business, and expansion in emerging markets through the "Global Small Car", to go on sale by the end of 2011.

Mitsubishi Motors became the world's first mass-volume carmaker to begin selling battery-run electric cars with the egg-shaped i-MiEV, with a sales target of 40,000 units by 2012.

Masuko said Mitsubishi Motors planned to beef up its zero-emission line-up, adding a commercial-use electric microvan in Japan in 2012, followed by a battery-powered version of the Global Small Car in developed markets by the end of 2012.

A gasoline-engine version of the Global Small Car is due to hit showrooms in 2011, and Masuko said the maker of the Pajero SUV will likely build the low-cost model in Thailand, by constructing a new factory with capacity of around 200,000 units a year.

He said Mitsubishi Motors also wants to build the model, which it wants to price under 1 million yen ($10,930), in either China, Brazil or India.

Through such steps, Masuko said, Mitsubishi Motors would target global sales of 1.5 million vehicles by 2013/14, representing a 56 percent jump from the year ended this March.

Mitsubishi Motors has also been filling unused factory capacity through supply deals with France's PSA Peugeot Citroen. The partners had explored a capital tie-up but dropped those talks in March.

Mitsubishi Motors is owned 15 percent by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and 14 percent by Mitsubishi Corp.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100608/ANE/306089973/1429#ixzz0qGw5Odbq

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