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Ford not ruling out sale, partnership

From Automotive News| April 18,2007

Ford Motor Co. has not ruled out an eventual sale or partnership as the automaker cuts jobs and closes plants in an effort to recover from billions of dollars in losses, Ford's executive chairman told a magazine in an article published on Tuesday, April 16.

Bill Ford Jr. told Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine that the second-largest automaker, which lost $12.7 billion in 2006, last year considered all options to finance its 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," Ford told the magazine.

"And there is still a big wide world of things that can happen in the future," he added.

Ford is in the middle of a sweeping restructuring that includes slashing more than 45,000 jobs and closing more than a dozen facilities in North America.

In an article titled "Driven to the Brink," Ford said he "literally didn't want to get out of bed" some mornings as the company explored its options.

Frustrated by the bureaucratic culture at the company and looking for new leadership, Ford said he reached out to now DaimlerChrysler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche, and to Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn. Both men turned down the position of chief operating officer.

Ford in September recruited Alan Mulally to head the company, handing over the position of CEO to the former Boeing executive.

After Mulally initially turned down the job, Ford recalled slumping in a chair with a blank pad of paper. He said he was "silent and devastated. I had no plan B."

After Mulally took the helm, Ford raised $23.5 billion to fund its restructuring by mortgaging most of its automotive assets.

Still, Ford told the magazine neither he nor Mulally ruled out an eventual sale or partnership for the company.

"We felt the best thing we could do was get our house in order," he said. "That doesn't preclude anything down the road."

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