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Ford Reduces Stake In Mazda, But Relationship Continues

Few changes in store, suggest officials.

by on Nov.19, 2010

Though they worked together on the underlying platform, Ford and Mazda have drifted apart since beginning work on the Fiesta and Mazda3 models.

Ford Motor Co. will sharply reduce its once commanding stake in Japanese automaker Mazda, reflecting the continuing shift in focus by the American automaker towards its core “Blue Oval” Ford brand.

Despite the cutback, which means Ford will no longer be Mazda’s single-largest shareholder, the two makers insist little will actually change in their decades-long relationship.

Ford will generate $370 million by reducing its stake in Mazda from the current 11% to just 3.5% in a deal completed today. ( had originally reported on the planned sale last month.)

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It’s a sharp shift in their long-standing ties, which date back to the 1970s, when Mazda began supplying Ford with transmissions.  By 1979, as the Japanese maker struggled to deal with ongoing financial problems, Ford expanded its stake to the point it became Mazda’s largest shareholder.  The stake eventually grew to 33.4% which, under Japanese law, put Ford into a position to name its own management team.