Ford is out of hock, so to speak. With Moody’s Investor’s Services upgrading the maker’s debt to “investment grade,” the second-largest automaker has done more than just fulfill the key goal of CEO Alan Mulally. It regains control of assets that include its factories, brand names and trademarks and the familiar Blue Oval logo.
While Ford continued to use them it put those and other assets up as collateral in 2006 to secure $23.5 billion in credit. That move, approved shortly after Mulally joined Ford from Boeing, where he had been a senior executive, helped the maker avoid the bankruptcy that nearly crushed its cross-town rivals General Motors and Chrysler.
“The key factor in our considering an investment grade rating for Ford was whether or not the company would be able to sustain its strong performance,” said Moody’s senior vice president Bruce Clark. “We concluded that the improvements Ford has made are likely to be lasting.”