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Nissan losses to top 100b yen

TOKYO, Jan 24 – Japan\’s Nissan Motor Co. is likely to post an operating loss of more than 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the fiscal year to March, due to a global auto slump and a stronger yen, a daily reported on Saturday.

It will be Nissan\’s first dip into the red in 14 years and is in marked contrast to its operating profit of 790.8 billion yen the previous year, the Nikkei business daily said.

Depending on car sales for the January-March quarter, the loss could even swell to around 200 billion yen, the daily said.

Depressed demand alone will eat into operating profit by more than 200 billion yen, while the yen\’s appreciation is seen dragging down the result by some 100 billion yen, it said.

Japan\’s number three automaker will likely slash or forgo a dividend payment and take steps such as reducing new cars under development by 20 percent and cutting executive pay, the daily said.

Nissan, controlled by France\’s Renault, in October lowered its forecast for operating profit for the year to March 2009 to 270 billion yen from a previous projection of 550 billion yen.

Nissan has also slashed its planned production in the current year by 289,000 vehicles, or about 21 percent, from an original target of 1.388 million.

The expected operating loss would be the first under President Carlos Ghosn, who was sent by Renault to rescue its Japanese partner from the brink of bankruptcy in 1999.

Japanese makers have seen a dramatic reversal in their fortunes in recent months as recessions in major markets have battered demand for cars. Last month Toyota predicted its first ever annual operating loss.

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