UPDATE 2-Kobe Steel CEO to step down over quality scandal - Nikkei

(Recasts, adds background about scandal)

March 5 (Reuters) - Kobe Steel Ltd Chief Executive Officer Hiroya Kawasaki will step down in connection with a quality lapse scandal that shook the Japanese manufacturing industry last year, the Nikkei reported on Tuesday.

The report comes hours before results of a 4-month-long external investigation into the scandal is expected to be released.

Kawasaki will vacate his position in June, the Nikkei reported, adding that Kobe will announce the personnel changes on Tuesday.

The head of Kobe's aluminum and copper division, Akira Kaneko, will also resign along with other executive changes, according to the Nikkei report. (http://s.nikkei.com/2H6e2tU)

The company did not respond to requests for comment outside business hours.

Japan's No.3 steelmaker, which supplies manufacturers of cars, planes and trains across the world, said last year that it had supplied roughly 500 customers products with falsified specifications, throwing global supply chains into turmoil.

Kobe also admitted that its executives were aware of the cheating and that the scandal was likely to reduce its recurring profit by 10 billion yen ($94.14 million) this year.

Shares of the company, which nearly halved after news of the scandal broke in October, has recouped some of the losses, partly helped by Japanese automakers vouching for the safety of the company's aluminum parts.

Higher prices of steel products and sales of construction machinery have also helped Kobe find its feet, with the company returning to a net profit for the April-December period.

Last month, Kobe forecast 45 billion yen of profit for the year through March and also raised its sales prediction, suggesting customers had not abandoned the company after the scandal.

($1 = 106.1500 yen) (Additional reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sayantani Ghosh)