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Ford: Sales, Marketing, and Financial News

 
Old 02-02-2007, 04:46 PM
  #321  
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Get your AM now.....while it does not have the stench of the all over it.
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:59 PM
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terrible
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Old 02-04-2007, 02:07 PM
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This should be interesting.
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Old 02-04-2007, 02:19 PM
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I dont think this is going to be a bad thing..
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:05 PM
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On a serious note, the French know a lot about making a car drive sporty. Especially with respect to steering. Even in the case of FWD vehicles. Of course that goes for French automakers not purse and garment makers, lol.

On a less serious note, at least we know that the best leather interior will be held by Aston going forward, lol.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:35 AM
  #326  
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Post Aston Martin sale dismissed as "rubbish"

By Jove, it's rubbish I say! Rubbish! Tea and crumpets, anyone?

Er...

From Leftlanenews...

Rumors that Aston Martin has been sold to luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton (LVMH) are "absolute rubbish," a spokesperson told U.K. weekly Autocar. "There is no truth in this story whatsoever," the LVMH representative said.

A source within the bidding process told the magazine "the story is simply erroneous," referring to a report last week by German auto magazine Autobild claiming LVMH won the rights to acquire Aston.

Louis Vuitton showed some interest in acquiring the brand, but decided not to proceed when bidding exceeded £400 million. Aston boss Ulrich Bez has also maintained the new owner should have at least some automotive industry experience.

Ford will announce the true new owner of Aston Martin in a month once the deal is finalized, the report said.
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Old 02-08-2007, 03:17 PM
  #327  
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I still wish BMW would pick them up.
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Old 02-08-2007, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by aesir11
I still wish BMW would pick them up.
why? so they can put active steering on the vanquish, and bangle-ize the front and rear?
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:17 AM
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I think the AM/LV alliance would have been tits... people who buy aston martins are into style more than anything else
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Old 02-09-2007, 10:24 AM
  #330  
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^^
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Old 02-09-2007, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bkknight369
why? so they can put active steering on the vanquish, and bangle-ize the front and rear?
Are you dense? First of all the new BMW designs are hot now that Bangle has toned down. Second, the mini and the Rolls styling are completely perfect for their brands. BMW understands how a brand should be styled and marketed and someone needs to be able to take AM to the next level. I can't think of any current automaker more perfect than BMW especially since they can buy AM and not poach on their own product.
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Old 02-11-2007, 06:00 PM
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good!
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Old 03-05-2007, 06:57 AM
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Ford sale of Aston Martin may be near

Luxury car company said to bring in $865M for troubled U.S. automaker.

LONDON (Reuters) -- Ford Motor Co. could announce the sale of its Aston Martin luxury performance cars unit for more than £450 million ($865 million) as early as this week, a source familiar with the matter said Monday.

Motor racing firm Prodrive, working with Egypt's Naeem investment bank, is frontrunner to buy the British maker of cars made famous by the James Bond spy movies, although other bidders such as UK buyout firm Doughty Hanson are still in the process should talks fall through, the source said.

The timing of the deal could also yet slip, the source added.

Doughty Hanson and Syrian-born property tycoon Simon Halabi also submitted second-round offers for Aston Martin in an auction being run by investment bank UBS AG, sources familiar with the matter said last month.

Ford said last year it would sell all or part of Aston Martin to raise funds for other businesses.

Aston Martin is on solid financial footing, a top Ford official said in January, adding that its sales increased by around half last year to about 6,500 cars.

Ford (Charts) declined to comment.

Ford, which competes with GM (Charts), DaimlerChrysler (Charts) and Toyota (Charts), recently announced its restructuring costs could hit $11 billion.

http://money.cnn.com/2007/03/05/news...ion=2007030506
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Old 03-08-2007, 01:22 PM
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Post Reports: Aston Martin likely sold to Prodrive

From Leftlanenews...

Ford is likely to announce the sale of its Aston Martin brand to racing firm Prodrive, according to reports by Reuters and the Telegraph. "It's a done deal. All that remains is to cross the t's and dot the i's," said a senior source told the U.K. newspaper.

Sources at the Geneva Motor Show told the Telegraph the sale would be complete by the end of the week. The Reuters news agency reported much the same thing, saying the $900 million deal could be finalized this week.

Ford announced in August it intended to sell the company in order to raise capital. In November, it was reported Aston Martin would likely become an independent car company, since no major automaker expressed an interest in acquiring the marquee.

Rumors that Aston Martin would be been sold to luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton (LVMH) surfaced earlier this year, and were promptly shot down as "absolute rubbish."

Prodrive revealed a tuning package for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The company tuned the 4.3 litre V8 engine to raise peak power from 380 hp to 425 hp, as well as increasing peak torque from 302 lb/ft to 325 lb/ft. This reduces the car's 0-62 mph time from 5.0 secs to 4.7 secs (est).

CEO Dr Ulrich Bez is likely to remain at the head of Aston, and Ford will retain a small stake in the company.
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Old 03-08-2007, 01:39 PM
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Ooh...Prodrive may go a long ways towards rebuilding AM's racing credibility...
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Old 03-08-2007, 01:41 PM
  #336  
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And Prodrive already has tuned some Aston cars...
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Old 03-08-2007, 04:59 PM
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Post More info...

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/mai.../cnaston07.xml

Sale of Aston Martin enters final lap


Aston Martin, the iconic luxury marque, would be sold by the end of the week, sources said yesterday at the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show.

"It's a done deal. All that remains is to cross the t's and dot the i's," said a senior source.

Aston Martin owner Ford is expected to sign the deal early on Friday in Detroit. The sale will see ownership of the 86-year-old British GT maker transfer to a consortium of business interests from America and the Middle East, headed by Prodrive founder and world rally championship owner David Richards.

Prodrive, which runs Aston Martin's works racing team and has worked with the company for many years, has emerged ahead of the remaining bidders Doughty Hanson and Syrian property businessman Simon Halabi.

The price is rumoured to be in the region of £500m, about half what Ford was asking when it first put the company up for sale six months ago. Ford is expected to maintain an interest in the firm as it is still lead supplier of component parts at preferential rates. Current Aston Martin chief executive Ulrich Benz will remain in day-to-day charge of the company and Mr Richards will head up the supervising board.

The existing relationship between Mr Richards and Aston Martin will have been seen as a bonus by Ford, which in spite of the financial problems that have forced it to sell Aston, is anxious to be seen as a good custodian of the marque.

Although Aston Martin has traditionally been seen as a good way to separate a rich man from the contents of his wallet, the sale has still attracted a huge number of potential buyers. Ford has admitted that it has had to weed out "Walter Mitty" types who had dreams but no experience.

In its 86-year existence, Aston Martin has been owned by few people and each time it has changed hands there has been an amazing story to tell. In 1947, English entrepreneur David Brown spotted Aston Martin for sale in a classified advertisement in The Times - "High-class motor business, established 25 years; £30,000; net profits last year £4,000. - Write Box V1362, The Times E.CO.4." He eventually bought it for just £20,000.
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Old 03-12-2007, 10:39 AM
  #338  
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Ford sells Aston Martin

March 12, 2007
Associated Press

DETROIT — Cash-strapped Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has sold a controlling stake in the Aston Martin brand, made famous by its exotic sports cars in James Bond movies, raising $848 million (all figures U.S.) to help fund its turnaround plan.

Aston Martin now will be run by a consortium of investors, including racing mogul David Richards, John Sinders and Kuwaiti firms of Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co.

Ford officials announced the sale Monday at Aston Martin’s headquarters in Gaydon, England. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter.

Ford will retain a $77 million stake in the company. That values all of Aston Martin at $925 million.

Dearborn-based Ford, which lost $12.7 billion last year and expects losses to continue until 2009, put Aston Martin up for sale last August.

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally said the sale supports the company’s turnaround plan, which involves cutting factory capacity and rolling out new cars and trucks at a faster pace.

“From Aston Martin’s point of view, the sale will provide access to additional capital, which will allow Aston Martin to continue the growth it has experienced under Ford’s stewardship," Mulally said in a statement.

Richards is founder and chairman of Prodrive, a racing and automotive technology company with long-standing ties to Aston Martin. Sinders is an Aston Martin collector and racing backer, while Investment Dar and Adeem Investment are international companies based in Kuwait, Ford said.

Founded in 1914 by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford, Aston Martin turned out its first car in 1915. Ford bought a controlling stake in Aston Martin in 1987 and acquired full ownership in 1994. It announced last August that it would be interested in a full or partial sale.

Annual production dipped as low as just 46 cars in 1992. But the brand has enjoyed a resurgence this decade – a record 7,000 Aston Martins were sold worldwide last year and a similar number are expected to be purchased in 2007.

The DB9 and V8 Vantage models are made at Gaydon and later this year a DBS model will go into production at the Warwickshire plant, where 1,600 staff are employed.

Actor Daniel Craig drove the DBS in Casino Royale and the first 007 – Sean Connery – drove an Aston Martin DB5 in the 1964 Bond movie Goldfinger.

Versions of the car also appeared in a number of other 007 films, including Thunderball, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye and Die Another Day.
http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/190841
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:40 AM
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^^ Would have been happier to see AM purchased by VW, MB, BMW.
...I am glad to see the French and Asian auto mfg. didn't purchase AM.
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Old 03-12-2007, 11:56 AM
  #340  
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Went off Ford's corporate website fast.
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Old 03-12-2007, 12:11 PM
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More tidbits on sale from Leftlanenews...

Ford today officially announced the sale of Aston Martin to an investment group lead by Prodrive founder and chairman David Richards. The deal — expected to close during the second quarter — is valued at $925 million, the company said. Ford plans to retain a small $77 million stake in Aston.

The new owner of Aston Martin is a consortium comprised of: David Richards, founder and chairman of Prodrive, a world-leading motorsport and automotive technology company; John Sinders, an avid Aston Martin collector and a backer of Aston Martin Racing; and Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co, international investment companies headquartered in Kuwait.

CEO Dr Ulrich Bez will remain in charge of Aston Martin.

Ford announced in August it intended to sell the company in order to raise capital. In November, it was reported Aston Martin would likely become an independent car company, since no major automaker expressed an interest in acquiring the marquee.

Rumors that Aston Martin would be been sold to luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton (LVMH) surfaced earlier this year, and were promptly shot down as "absolute rubbish."

Prodrive revealed a tuning package for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The company tuned the 4.3 litre V8 engine to raise peak power from 380 hp to 425 hp, as well as increasing peak torque from 302 lb/ft to 325 lb/ft. This reduces the car's 0-62 mph time from 5.0 secs to 4.7 secs (est).
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Old 03-12-2007, 06:24 PM
  #342  
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More news:

http://blog.wired.com/cars/2007/03/ford_sells_asto.html



For you and me, the $925 million Ford is getting for sports car maker Aston Martin would be a lot of money. But when you put it up against the $12.7 billion in losses Ford racked up in 2006, it ain't all that. Add to that the preference expressed by some analysts that Ford unload money-loser Jaguar instead, and you start to wonder whether ditching the maker of James Bond's classiest car ever was really the right idea.

In an official statement, Ford CEO Alan Mulally put on his game face: "The sale of Aston Martin supports the key objectives of the company, to restructure to operate profitably at lower volumes and changed model mix and to speed the development of new products." Lewis Booth, head of Ford's European operations, was less sanguine, calling it "a bittersweet day," with the lukewarm addendum that Aston Martin was "a logical divestiture choice."

Logical? Maybe. Aston Martin makes about 5,000 cars a year priced at more than $100,000 each. The company is profitable, but offers almost no opportunities for sharing parts and engineering with other models, a key element in Ford's global restructuring plan. Still, it looks to me like racing entrepreneur David Richards' investment group got a bargain — and Aston Martin jumped ship just in time.
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Old 03-18-2007, 01:50 AM
  #343  
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way to much reading.
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Old 04-06-2007, 01:12 AM
  #344  
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Ford CEO gets $39M (U.S.) compensation

April 05, 2007
Poornima Gupta
reuters

DETROIT–Ford Motor Co. Thursday said it awarded new Chief Executive Alan Mulally compensation of $39.1 million (U.S.) for four months of work in 2006, a year when the second-largest U.S. automaker posted a $12.7 billion loss.

Mulally, a former Boeing Co. executive, replaced Ford family scion Bill Ford Jr. as chief executive last September.

According to Ford's proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mulally's compensation included a prorated $666,667 salary, an $18.5 million bonus, $19.6 million of stock and option awards, and $334,433 of other compensation.

The latter sum included $172,974 for the required use of corporate aircraft and $55,469 for relocation costs and temporary housing, among other items.

Mulally's bonus included $7.5 million awarded when he was hired, and $11 million to offset compensation he gave up when he left Boeing, where he led the commercial plane division.

Compensation is based on salary, bonus, the value of stock options and other awards granted during the year, as well as incentives and perks.

Ford, using different calculations it set forth in a summary compensation table, said Mulally's compensation totalled $28.18 million for 2006. It also said Mulally also received 4 million stock options last year, but at least 3 million are now out of the money.

Chairman Bill Ford, who was CEO from January to August, did not receive any cash salary or bonus for 2006.

He had made a commitment the previous year to forgo remuneration until the company's auto unit showed sustained profits. Bill Ford was in March 2006 granted stock awards valued at $4.95 million for work done in 2005, Ford said.

Mulally joined Ford as the company was drawing up a restructuring plan that included job cuts and accelerated factory closures.

Ford, which doesn't expect its key North American auto operations to return to profitability until 2009, has been steadily losing U.S. market share to more nimble rivals led by Toyota Motor Corp.

According to his employment agreement, Mulally would receive $27.54 million if he were terminated for a reason other than cause in his first five years, or if Ford was acquired, merged or went bankrupt, the company said in the filing.

Among compensation granted to other executives, as calculated by Reuters, Ford Americas President Mark Fields was awarded $10.86 million for 2006, including a salary of $1.25 million, while Chief Financial Officer Don Leclair was awarded $7.99 million, including a $1 million salary.

Separately, shareholders are scheduled to vote on eight shareholder proposals at the company's annual meeting on May 10 in Delaware.

One proposal, opposed by management, calls for Ford to have a single class of shares. The company, which has been publicly traded since 1956, has two share classes, with Class B shares giving the Ford family 40 per cent of voting power.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York)
http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/200133
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Old 04-06-2007, 06:55 AM
  #345  
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$39mil to find the left over taurus badges they had in storage and stick them on the 500...

awesome
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Old 04-06-2007, 12:58 PM
  #346  
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Wow... that's a lot of money that could have been dumped into producing better products.
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Old 04-06-2007, 01:57 PM
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ahh the wonders of corporate america
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:48 AM
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Dang let me become a CEO, but no one will hire a 27 yr old to run a company
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:25 AM
  #349  
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Arrow Ford: Driven to the Brink

Article from Portfolio.com...

Long...but, worth a read...

Bill Ford is scrambling to save the family legacy. But with Motor City in a tailspin and takeover firms hovering, can a new C.E.O. figure out how to keep the Fords in Ford?

It’s a rainy Friday night in Detroit, and Bill Ford would much rather be on an ice rink playing pond hockey with his buddies or at home watching 24 with his wife, Lisa—anywhere but here, the Cobo Center, where he’s feeling hot and confined in his black tie, taking part in the kind of pomp and pageantry for which he has little patience. Tonight is Detroit’s Charity Preview gala, the biggest social event of the year and the triumphant finale of the opening week of the North American International Auto Show in January.

Ladies in department-store ball gowns sweep past dazzling Maseratis and Mustangs, sipping champagne and trying to catch a glimpse of the glitterati—captains of industry like former Chrysler chair Lee Iacocca, G.M. vice chair Bob Lutz, and Bill Ford, the executive chair of Ford Motor. There is an aura of old Vienna. This is truly Detroit in denial, or maybe pretending that it is still the center of the universe. Never mind that Ford will soon post its biggest-ever annual loss, $12.7 billion, or that Chrysler will be put up for sale, or that before long the Big Three might become the Big Two and eventually, God forbid, the Only One. Toyota is the real star of this show, but for tonight at least, everybody acts blissfully unaware, and that’s driving Bill Ford crazy. He’s always been an iconoclast in macho Motor City. He shakes hands and makes pleasantries until beads of sweat break out on his forehead, and he tugs at his collar and says under his breath, “Can you believe this? My least favorite night of the year.”

He’s trying to keep it from becoming his least favorite year too. For a long time, U.S. automakers have avoided dealing with a seemingly insurmountable problem: too few buyers for too many cars and trucks. In 2006, under the heated glare of Wall Street, Bill Ford and his board considered every option—mergers, alliances, selling the company wholesale or in pieces. A nervous Ford family—which effectively holds a controlling stake—even talked about taking the company private but dropped the idea, spooked by the debt that would involve. Recruiting a hotshot like Carlos Ghosn, the C.E.O. of Renault and Nissan Motor, had been another possibility, but Ford’s leadership doubted that Renault’s recovery was sustainable.

Ultimately, Bill Ford and his board bet on what they hope will prove to be a long-term fix, hiring a turnaround expert from Boeing to overhaul the company from the factory floor on up. The president and C.E.O. they chose, Alan Mulally, is expected to shrink and refocus the company, killing some brands and selling off others, as evidenced in the deal announced in March to sell Aston Martin for nearly $1 billion. All of this will require a delicate dance with dealers, suppliers, the U.A.W., and some increasingly impatient shareholders who plan to call for an end to family control at the annual meeting in May. “It’s a high-wire act, no question,” says lead director Irv Hockaday.

Meanwhile, an onslaught of private equity types has turned gritty Detroit into a gold-rush town. Every out-of-work auto executive, it seems, has transformed himself into a speculator. In this charged atmosphere, everybody waits to see who will start the action, and when. Is consolidation inevitable? If so, does the advantage go to the first movers or to the strongest partners? Bill Ford is bracing for anything. The family is considering hiring boutique investment bankers to analyze how the company might be affected, and to watch out for its interests if Ford is drawn into the fray.

Two conflicting forces in American business—the long-term players and the short-term opportunists—are engaged in a heated debate, and there’s no better vantage than Bill Ford’s office atop the company’s green glass headquarters in Dearborn for beholding the clash between the sharply differing outlooks. The debate is not new. But the struggle has intensified as private equity has afforded executives a quick way to dispose of troubled companies. On one side are the long-haul believers like Ford and his family.

It’s a rainy Friday night in Detroit, and Bill Ford would much rather be on an ice rink playing pond hockey with his buddies or at home watching 24 with his wife, Lisa—anywhere but here, the Cobo Center, where he’s feeling hot and confined in his black tie, taking part in the kind of pomp and pageantry for which he has little patience. Tonight is Detroit’s Charity Preview gala, the biggest social event of the year and the triumphant finale of the opening week of the North American International Auto Show in January.

Ladies in department-store ball gowns sweep past dazzling Maseratis and Mustangs, sipping champagne and trying to catch a glimpse of the glitterati—captains of industry like former Chrysler chair Lee Iacocca, G.M. vice chair Bob Lutz, and Bill Ford, the executive chair of Ford Motor. There is an aura of old Vienna. This is truly Detroit in denial, or maybe pretending that it is still the center of the universe. Never mind that Ford will soon post its biggest-ever annual loss, $12.7 billion, or that Chrysler will be put up for sale, or that before long the Big Three might become the Big Two and eventually, God forbid, the Only One. Toyota is the real star of this show, but for tonight at least, everybody acts blissfully unaware, and that’s driving Bill Ford crazy. He’s always been an iconoclast in macho Motor City. He shakes hands and makes pleasantries until beads of sweat break out on his forehead, and he tugs at his collar and says under his breath, “Can you believe this? My least favorite night of the year.”

He’s trying to keep it from becoming his least favorite year too. For a long time, U.S. automakers have avoided dealing with a seemingly insurmountable problem: too few buyers for too many cars and trucks. In 2006, under the heated glare of Wall Street, Bill Ford and his board considered every option—mergers, alliances, selling the company wholesale or in pieces. A nervous Ford family—which effectively holds a controlling stake—even talked about taking the company private but dropped the idea, spooked by the debt that would involve. Recruiting a hotshot like Carlos Ghosn, the C.E.O. of Renault and Nissan Motor, had been another possibility, but Ford’s leadership doubted that Renault’s recovery was sustainable.

Ultimately, Bill Ford and his board bet on what they hope will prove to be a long-term fix, hiring a turnaround expert from Boeing to overhaul the company from the factory floor on up. The president and C.E.O. they chose, Alan Mulally, is expected to shrink and refocus the company, killing some brands and selling off others, as evidenced in the deal announced in March to sell Aston Martin for nearly $1 billion. All of this will require a delicate dance with dealers, suppliers, the U.A.W., and some increasingly impatient shareholders who plan to call for an end to family control at the annual meeting in May. “It’s a high-wire act, no question,” says lead director Irv Hockaday.

Meanwhile, an onslaught of private equity types has turned gritty Detroit into a gold-rush town. Every out-of-work auto executive, it seems, has transformed himself into a speculator. In this charged atmosphere, everybody waits to see who will start the action, and when. Is consolidation inevitable? If so, does the advantage go to the first movers or to the strongest partners? Bill Ford is bracing for anything. The family is considering hiring boutique investment bankers to analyze how the company might be affected, and to watch out for its interests if Ford is drawn into the fray.

Two conflicting forces in American business—the long-term players and the short-term opportunists—are engaged in a heated debate, and there’s no better vantage than Bill Ford’s office atop the company’s green glass headquarters in Dearborn for beholding the clash between the sharply differing outlooks. The debate is not new. But the struggle has intensified as private equity has afforded executives a quick way to dispose of troubled companies. On one side are the long-haul believers like Ford and his family.

That man was Alan Mulally, executive vice president of Boeing and president and C.E.O. of its commercial airplane business. But after more than a month of talks, Mulally had just called to turn down the job.

Ford spent much of the weekend slumped in a chair in his house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a blank pad of paper and nothing whatsoever to write on it. He was out of ideas. He was, he says, “silent and devastated. I had no plan B.”

There were many scenarios, of course, but none of them palatable: a fire sale of assets or even an outright auction to the highest bidder. Or a wide-open C.E.O. search that would vet all the usual high-profile suspects—the Jack Welch protégés like Bob Nardelli at Home Depot or Jim McNerney at Boeing—and could easily result in a leader who would impress Wall Street and get Ford directors out of the hot seat but might ultimately destroy the fabric of the company.

From the outset in 1903, Ford’s business model involved more than just turning a profit. Henry Ford’s brilliance was not only the development of the assembly line but also a policy of shared interests. By instituting a then unheard-of $5-a-day wage, he created a stable workforce as well as a mass market for the company’s Model T. While other corporate executives measured decisions by their effect on the stock price, Ford stuck to a broader mandate, contributing to the community and trying to be fair to workers.

Through the years, the Ford family has upheld that philosophy by staying both interested and in control, with 3.75 percent of the equity plus a special class B stock that gives them 40 percent of the shareholder vote and the power to block takeovers. “Most companies have ever-changing executives—nameless, faceless business suits,” Ford says. “The family gives this company a sense of accountability. It gives the company a conscience.”

Nonetheless, Bill Ford was truly a reluctant C.E.O. He’d been a smart, frenetic, curious kid—a contrarian thinker—and probably a lot better suited to Silicon Valley than the Motor City. Born William Clay Ford Jr., he’d struggled with the destiny he couldn’t escape. His uncle Henry Ford II, of the third generation, had run the company from 1945 until 1979. Nobody ever said it, but Bill knew that he, as the fair-haired boy of the fourth generation, was the logical one to step up.

When he graduated from Princeton in 1979, he was tempted to follow his friends to Wall Street, but he had a sense of Ford’s larger place in the world. An environmentalist, he dreamed that the company could become a pioneer in developing cleaner cars and manufacturing. He also felt strongly (others thought naively) that the company should do more to enlist labor, not fight it. So Bill Ford trudged back to Dearborn to what he knew would be a long, grueling march through a series of corporate jobs—18 in all, including product planning analyst, head of climate control, heavy-truck engineering manager, head of Switzerland—fighting against nonfamily managers who didn’t want to see a Ford in the executive suite. He developed insomnia. He didn’t know if his career was headed anywhere, let alone toward the top. Plenty of times he almost quit.

In January 1999, though, Ford was named chair, and Jacques Nasser, head of the company’s automotive operations and one of the industry’s brightest stars, became C.E.O. Nasser was clearly the bigfoot—a darling of Wall Street and the guy who gave credence to the deal. (Ford’s stock reached a high of $68 a share by May.) While Nasser set out to transform Ford from a car manufacturer into a consumer-driven provider of automotive goods and services, Bill Ford wanted to make the place a corporate model for the 21st century.

Finally, he could push Ford to explore hybrid technology, keep it focused on the future, and try to enfranchise workers who, he believed, could be a critical asset. “There are people who think I’m a Bolshevik,” Ford said at the time, “but I really don’t care.” Many auto executives thought he was nuts. Wall Street questioned if he was up to the job. With Nasser at the wheel, though, Bill Ford could afford to be outrageous. Looking back, it’s striking how similar much of his thinking was to Toyota’s.

Nasser was flashy, but he nearly wrecked Ford by going on an acquisitions binge that included not just Volvo and Land Rover but car repair shops, salvage yards, even stakes in e-commerce ventures. His problems were compounded by the dotcom crash and, worst of all, a scandal implicating Ford Explorers equipped with Fire-stone tires in dozens of deadly vehicle rollovers. By the time Bill Ford replaced Nasser as C.E.O. in late 2001, product quality had plummeted, lawsuits had piled up, development of new cars and trucks had faltered, and the company would have a $5.5 billion loss for the year. The debacle continued to haunt the company in the form of a weakened management team and a dangerously anemic product pipeline.

Although he’d initiated the board talks that led to Nasser’s ouster, Bill Ford had not been gunning to take his place. “Bill took on the C.E.O. job because he thought he had a responsibility to take up the challenge at a particularly difficult time for the company,” says eBay C.E.O. Meg Whitman, who has become a good friend. They both have houses in Telluride, Colorado, and he is on her company’s board. “He feels a responsibility that a big part of the engine of American growth and a big part of American identity has a chance to be successful.”

But Bill Ford the C.E.O. was nothing like Bill Ford the iconoclast. “I was afraid that if I really pushed all the things I believed in, the world would think Ford was in the hands of a madman,” he says. Instead he anointed the old guard, consulting with retired executives and persuading one to return to the company. “I wish that I had listened to my instincts and less to the people around me.” He says he spent too much time trying to mollify Wall Street. “I was very proud of the fact that we’d had 12 quarters in a row of meeting or beating our estimates. But I don’t think it made any difference.” The focus on short-term profits only perpetuated business as usual, prolonging Ford’s dependence on the fat profits of S.U.V.’s and trucks and delaying the expensive retooling required to winnow costs and stave off Toyota, which was steadily gaining market share in the U.S.

Numerous times, Ford looked for a high-powered C.O.O. He says he offered the job to Carlos Ghosn in 2002, when Ghosn was C.E.O. of Nissan, and to Dieter Zetsche in 2004 when Zetsche was C.E.O. of Chrysler. Ghosn turned him down, and Zetsche said he would not consider anything less than C.E.O. Ford offered Ghosn that spot in 2005, but it was too late; by then Ghosn was C.E.O. of both Nissan and Renault.

Early last year, Ford began to worry that the company was spinning out of control. Product development was consistently over budget; sales missed their mark. The more Ford tried to find out why, the more his executives pushed back, assuring him the problems were under control. His unorthodox decision to hold off replacing his retiring chief operating officer, Padilla, “was a critical moment,” says former chief of staff Hamp. “He wanted to remove the goddamned layers and stick his fingers in the guts of the place and find out how screwed up we really were.”

What Ford found was a lot of lip service and robust PowerPoints but not a lot of action. “Things I’d assumed were happening were not,” he says. “When I gave a directive, the system would slow-walk it.… You know, if you have enough meetings … if you just slow the train down long enough, people will lose interest.” The effort to make development of new cars and trucks more efficient across the globe was way behind. So was the hybrid program. Customers were confused about what Ford’s brands stood for, but marketing was “soft stuff” and therefore got short shrift. The company remained a collection of warring fiefdoms that still operated ass-backward—“Build a great vehicle and throw it out there and hope somebody buys it.”

Ford discovered pretty quickly what he needed to know: “The best that I could do for this company was find somebody who could shake the culture of the place,” he says. “We were running against the clock.” At the annual meeting in May, shareholder activists called for the family to give up its controlling vote. In June, Anne Ford, one of Henry Ford II’s two daughters and a cousin of Bill’s, sent him an email. “The stock price is terrible,” she recalls writing him. “Maybe we ought to bring somebody in to help you.” She was so torn about sending the message that she checked the propriety with a long-time family adviser. Part of what’s held the family together through good times and bad is that they don’t gang up. She felt strongly, though, that her cousin needed some help and that it was okay to suggest it. Bill quickly replied that he would do everything he could and was looking into all possibilities. He could not let her know insider information—that he was already considering it.

Kerkorian’s attempt that month at a shotgun marriage of G.M. and Renault-Nissan rattled the industry. In early July, Bill Ford called Ghosn to find out what was going on. Contrary to widespread reports, Ford says they never discussed an alliance. (He insists that he’s never discussed one with anybody.) The influx of private equity increased exponentially the possible combinations. Familiar faces were showing up on behalf of the equity firms, and that, too, cranked up the heat. Ford’s former executive vice president David Thursfield works at Cerberus Capital Management; Nasser, at One Equity Partners. Bob Rubin, a director of Citigroup and a six-year member of Ford’s board, was becoming insistent that the automaker study all its options.

The company set up a war room. “Literally everything was on the table,” recalls Hamp, who was working on liquidity strategies to finance a restructuring. “Merge with another company, go it alone, sell off the brands, have the family pull out and get rid of their B stock—there are a billion things that could’ve happened. And there is still a big wide world of things that can happen in the future.” The family’s talks of going private didn’t get very far, says Bill Ford, because the heavy debt at the automaker’s credit arm was a “showstopper.”

“That would be really scary,” says Anne Ford. “None of us were prepared for that.”

The board meeting in Dearborn on July 12 and 13 was one that lead director Hockaday will not forget. Bill Ford, he says, delivered “one of the finest statements I had ever heard in a boardroom. ‘This company means a lot to me. I have a lot tied up, but what I don’t have tied up is my ego. I will do whatever is necessary.’ That was a stunning acknowledgement of self-awareness and insight. I was rather moved by that, and I think others were too.” He and another director mobilized to help Ford land the long shot who’d become his first choice.

Alan Mulally is fit and athletic, with smiling eyes and an irrepressible personality that nicely offsets the crisis mentality at company headquarters. He was Boeing’s secret weapon in the recent breathtaking turnaround of its commercial airplane division. How? By paring the company’s product line, focusing on the middle market, and building teams that integrated the engineers and even suppliers into design and development—all moves that would be helpful at Ford. He is passionate about quality and safety; making airplanes, he had to be. Aviation Week named him its person of the year in January, saying he played a pivotal role in saving Boeing.

Mulally long had a soft spot for the company. In the mid-’80s, as a favor to a Ford executive on Boeing’s board, he’d helped the automaker on its design of the Taurus. And as a student of Toyota’s, he knew that Henry Ford had advised the company early on in its car-making ventures.

But Mulally was also a man of deep company loyalty. He’d stayed at Boeing for 37 years because he loved everything about it—the work, the people, the airplanes. Boeing was so much a part of his identity that whenever he signed his name, he drew a little plane next to the signature. So he turned Bill Ford down on that dismal Friday evening.

The following week, Bill Ford sent Joe Laymon, Ford’s group vice president of human resources, to Seattle, telling him not to come back without Mulally. Laymon helped convince Mulally to change his mind. If Boeing had made Mulally C.O.O. or put him on the board, one Ford exec believes, he’d still be at Boeing. Says Mulally: “This was about Ford. Could Ford be relevant? Could it be a globally competitive automobile company?”

Mulally would go to Ford only if management was committed to fixing the business—and if Bill Ford would stay on as chairman. “There was a feeling on the board that we’d found our path out of the wilderness, and it was in everybody’s best interest to take it,” says Hockaday. Shortly before Mulally accepted the job, Bob Rubin left the board, telling Bill Ford in a letter that he wished to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that might result from his relationships with Ford and Citi, which was advising the auto-maker on its strategic review.

In mid-September, about 60 members of the Ford family gathered at Greenfield Village, the Ford history museum complex, to meet their new C.E.O. Previous ones from outside the family—Nasser and Alex Trotman—had been cold and aloof. Mulally could barely contain himself. He’d brought a copy of the family tree, intending to get some autographs. “These were the Fords,” he says. “This was American royalty.”

As he gave Mulally center stage, Bill Ford was surprised to feel “a lot of conflicting emotions,” he says. “I was thrilled Alan was here. But I felt like maybe I’d let the family down.” He couldn’t help remembering how, when he’d become C.E.O., “they’d all been so happy.”

Ford warns that he’s not going to play up to par tonight, a Monday in late February at a rink in a blue-collar suburb of Detroit. That’s because on the weekend, he played five 90-minute games of pond hockey over three days in a tournament in Eagle River, Wisconsin, and dislocated his shoulder—again. It was worth it, though, because his team took the gold medal.

Anybody doubting how wrenching it was for Ford to relinquish the C.E.O. job should see him play hockey, even on an off night. He’s proud. He’s competitive. He hates to lose. When an opponent slams him into the boards, Ford goes after him like a mad hornet until he gets the puck back. But here on the ice, it’s also clear he’s got a bigger role to play. Bill Ford is the brand. And for all his fine breeding, he seems most in his element with the average Joes who are Ford’s traditional customers. Take his hockey team, for instance. One is a security guard; another, a photographer. “I think that guy sells PVC tubing,” he says, as a teammate skates by. In the weekend tournament, a game against a team from Ford’s Wayne assembly plant got kind of rough. When a player called him an asshole and punched him in the chin, Ford used his stick to knock the guy’s legs out from under him. But when it was all over, the same player approached him, asking, “Mr. Ford, can you sign my jersey?” Of course, Ford did.

Part of the strategy going forward is to tap into that underlying reservoir of goodwill. Bill Ford will be critical to patching up contentious relationships with dealers and employees who will play a pivotal role in Mulally’s turnaround plan. His less adversarial stance toward the U.A.W. has already paid off in some of Ford’s restructuring and may prove invaluable when contract talks begin later this year.

So far he’s determined to stay out of Mulally’s way. “A shadow C.E.O. would wreck everything,” Ford says. On business decisions, that’s easy. On people decisions, it’s harder. “I have to really bite my tongue,” he says, “but you know I may have been too close to some of the people to see them clearly.” International operations chief Mark Schulz departed after turning down what may have seemed like a demotion. That was hard on Ford, people close to him say. Schulz was one of his best friends.

Meanwhile, Mulally has blown through protocols. He reorganized Ford’s car business into three parts: the Americas, Europe, and Asia. In weekly meetings, he manages by metrics, requiring execs to post their numbers, forcing transparency and keeping the pressure on. Not only does Mulally ignore industry conventions, but he also doesn’t seem to know or care what they are. He called Chrysler C.E.O. Tom LaSorda to offer “moral support” when the company went up for sale. He raised eyebrows when he decided to bring back the beloved Ford Taurus—by slapping the name on the Ford Five Hundred, its slow-selling sedan. Eighty percent of the public knows the Taurus, he reasons, while less than 35 percent know the Five Hundred.

Some on Wall Street still relish a marriage of Ford with Renault-Nissan. Not Mulally. If a partnership is inevitable, it’s clear where his heart lies. “If you think I have a relationship with Ford, I have an unbelievable relationship with Toyota,” he says. Because Boeing essentially created the aerospace industry in postwar Japan, he’s been there 47 times, he explains. “Every time I go, I always check in with Toyota. It’s history. It’s family. Safe, efficient transportation for all, right? Think about the parallels.” But he won’t say whether his remarks hint at some kind of partnership down the road. No comment, he teases.

Mulally tells his troops that Ford has taken out “one of the largest home-improvement loans” ever to finance a return to profitability in 2009. “We are under a great deal of pressure.… The bankers don’t want assets; they want you to be viable.” To that end, he will have closed nine plants by the start of 2009 and eliminated more than 40,000 jobs. He’s set a goal that 70 percent of Ford’s vehicles will be brand-new or significantly improved by the end of next year. He’s reengineering both the cars and the factories to bring down costs. All told, the company expects to burn through $17 billion in cash in the next two years.

It’s all on the line. For the last year, the family had been preparing for bad news, but Anne Ford, for one, wouldn’t feel the full import of that path until she opened the newspaper on November 28 and read the headline. There it was in black and white. The company had mortgaged everything: the factories, the offices, the patents, the trademarks. “The blue oval, even,” she says, the one with her great-grandfather’s name inside. “I felt sick. I felt terrible. Because if we lose, we lose everything.” One thing she’s sure about. The company has to succeed. “Oh, my God, yes. It stands for America, doesn’t it?” And a future without Ford? “I don’t even want to think about it,” she says.
Source: http://www.portfolio.com/executives/...e-Brink?page=6
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Old 04-18-2007, 10:55 AM
  #350  
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Whose fault is it that they’re product line is basically 20 years behind the competition?

I don’t think anyone here or any other car enthusiasts are going to drop a tear if Ford goes.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Black Tire
Whose fault is it that they’re product line is basically 20 years behind the competition?

I don’t think anyone here or any other car enthusiasts are going to drop a tear if Ford goes.
I'd feel bad, it would be another piece of American history that has died. Another bite out of our greatness.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by aesir11
I'd feel bad, it would be another piece of American history that has died. Another bite out of our greatness.
Is it a coincidence that yet another 2nd/3rd generation-run family company is in trouble...?
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Old 04-18-2007, 12:01 PM
  #353  
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Over the Corp. history of America, many well known companies have come and go. If you don't serve your customers well, it really doesn't matter what the history is. Alan Mulally seems to be pretty determined about where he wants Ford to go. I wonder about the Mercury brand that Ford has. What does that do? Get rid of it.
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Old 04-18-2007, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TMQ
Over the Corp. history of America, many well known companies have come and go. If you don't serve your customers well, it really doesn't matter what the history is. Alan Mulally seems to be pretty determined about where he wants Ford to go. I wonder about the Mercury brand that Ford has. What does that do? Get rid of it.
I think the new Milan is nice, but I'm passed that.
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Old 04-18-2007, 03:36 PM
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Mercury is dead. I'd say it needs an entirely new lineup. and to split from ford pronto. As well as the rest of the other ford holdings... god what an awful way to go ford.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Black Tire
Whose fault is it that they’re product line is basically 20 years behind the competition?

I don’t think anyone here or any other car enthusiasts are going to drop a tear if Ford goes.
I would. If Ford goes away, it would mean that NA never was able to get their hands on the great Euro Ford products.
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Old 04-18-2007, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Moog-Type-S
I would. If Ford goes away, it would mean that NA never was able to get their hands on the great Euro Ford products.


I would as well. Don't forget the great work that Ford Australia does as well.
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Old 04-19-2007, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Yumchah


I would as well. Don't forget the great work that Ford Australia does as well.
there is a reason why the Euro line works better than the US one. It's cos the euro line is made by completely different people. Ford has no part in it other than being the parent company and providing few component.
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Old 04-20-2007, 12:02 AM
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they need to un-unionize their workers. they need to bring their euro/aussey cars here. And they need to team up with a company from japan. I think its obvious that the German and Americans cant work together, two different schools of thoughts, ala Chrysler...
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Old 04-20-2007, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by aesir11
I think the new Milan is nice, but I'm passed that.

This is whats wrong, no imagination. The Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MXZ, is the same damn car. Ford introduces the 500, no wait the Taurus. This is a car that someone with wears the pants up to their tits wouldn't buy.

Bring the Mondeo over here, something with a little style, and I wouldn't have went to the Acura dealer, well still would have gone to Acura dealer, if the interior looks like shit as most do.
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