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Ford's CEO sees 'real progress'

From latimes| May 14,2007

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally reassured shareholders Thursday that the automaker's turnaround plan was on track and that it was investing in environmentally friendly technologies amid concerns about climate change.

Mulally, making his first appearance before company shareholders, said Ford was taking "painful but necessary steps" to streamline costs and bring more accountability to the nation's No. 2 automaker with the goal of building "more of the products that people really want and value."

"We are moving quickly and making real progress, but it's going to take time to turn things around," Mulally said. He promised "clearly stated goals and candid assessments of our progress based on facts."

With several shareholders asking Ford to take a more active role to guard against global warming, Mulally said the company was committed to making environmentally friendly vehicles that "protect their passengers and our planet."

Shareholders overwhelmingly reelected the Dearborn, Mich.-based company's 12 directors and rejected eight ballot proposals, including measures on global warming, healthcare and a plan to give one vote to each share of outstanding stock.

Descendants of Henry Ford, who make up 40% of the combined voting power of all outstanding family stock, are allowed 16 votes for each of their shares, whereas other shares get one vote apiece.

Ford lost $12.6 billion in 2006, the largest loss in its 103-year history, and has seen its sales decline nearly 13% this year against the backdrop of a slowing economy, a sluggish housing market and a shift from larger vehicles because of rising gasoline prices.

Mulally, a former Boeing Co. executive, has pressed for more discipline as Ford undergoes a restructuring that will significantly reduce its workforce and shutter 16 facilities by 2012.

Ford shares fell 11 cents to $8.24.

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