Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

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TOKYO — Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. says it had to file for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S. to ensure it could continue supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

The company’s bankruptcy filings Monday cleared the way for a $1.6 billion takeover of most of Takata’s assets by Key Safety Systems, which is based in Detroit but owned by a Chinese company.

Takata’s president Shigehisa Takada told reporters in Tokyo that with the company rapidly losing value, filing for bankruptcy protection was the only way it could carry on.

Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force when they fill up an air bag, spewing out shrapnel. So far 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.