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Ford To Sell Off Most Of Remaining Mazda Stock

Last-minute hurdles still could scuttle deal, sources say.

by on Oct.19, 2010

Ford is now ready to go it alone without the help of long-time ally Mazda when developing replacements for products like the 2011 Fiesta.

Ford Motor Co. appears ready to sell off most or all of its remaining stake in Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp., several industry sources have confirmed.

Such a move would not only relinquish Ford’s role as the largest Mazda shareholder but also end what has been the longest in-depth relationship between a U.S. and Japanese automaker – one that has helped both makers develop an array of products that might not have been able to bring to market on their own.

The sale, if completed, would mark another milestone in Ford CEO Alan Mulally’s so-called One Ford strategy, which has already led the U.S. maker to sell off an assortment of foreign luxury brands, including Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

In fact, one of Mulally’s first big moves, in 2008, shortly after joining the Detroit maker, was to cut Ford’s stake in Mazda from 33.4% to 13%.  That figure has since declined to 11%.

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“We’re not commenting about reports on our shareholding in Mazda,” Ford spokesman Mark Truby told TheDetroitBureau.com.  “We have a close relationship with Mazda,” he added, “that spans 30 years.”

But other sources, both in the U.S. and Japan, told TheDetroitBureau.com that Ford is, indeed, negotiating a sell-off of its remaining stake – which was once large enough that the U.S. maker was able to appoint its own representative to run the Japanese company.

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