Could Ford (the family) be thinking of jumping ship from Ford (the
company)? Talk about really bad Karma!
Ford family talks to Wall St. dealmakers, report
May 8 2007: 12:09 PM EDT
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- There is internal dissent within the Ford
family about the future of its stake in Ford Motor, as some members
recently pushed to hire top Wall Street dealmakers to advise them on
their holdings in the troubled automaker, according to a published report.
The Detroit News reported Tuesday that some family members invited
Joseph Perella and Peter Weinberg, two of Wall Street's top dealmakers,
to address the group at what the paper said was a tense meeting on April 21.
In the end the paper said the group decided not to hire the dealmakers'
firm, Perella Weinberg Partners, to advise them on what to do with its
holdings in the troubled automaker. But the paper said the meeting
revealed growing divisions within the family that controls 40 percent of
the company's voting shares.
The report comes ahead of the Ford Motor (Charts, Fortune 500) annual
meeting Thursday, and as the company continues to struggle to stem
losses from its core automotive operations. The company's U.S. sales are
down 13 percent over the first four months of the year, and it is in
danger of losing its long-held spot as the No. 2 U.S. automaker to
Toyota Motor (Charts), which has been gaining market share.
U.S. automakers Ford, General Motors (Charts, Fortune 500) and the
Chrysler Group, which has been put up for sale by its parent
DaimlerChrysler (Charts), are all trimming staff and closing plants as
they to adjust to weaker sales. All also hope to win concessions from
the United Auto Workers union when their labor deals expire in September.
The paper said that Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., his father, and his
cousin Edsell Ford, a company director, all opposed hiring Perella
Weinberg. The paper reports that Ford Motor executive Elena Ford has
offered to buy the stock of any relative interested in selling out.
But the paper reported Bill Ford's older sister Sheila Hamp, and her
husband, Steven Hamp, who served as Bill Ford Jr.'s chief-of-staff from
2005 until Ford gave up his CEO post last September, supported hiring
Perella Weinberg Partners.
Hamp told the paper that the family members support turnaround efforts
at Ford, and the hiring of former Boeing (Charts, Fortune 500) executive
Alan Mulally as CEO last September.
"The notion that there's a revolution going on, or that there is in any
way a lack of confidence in what Alan is doing, is categorically wrong,"
he told the News.
But the paper reports that people familiar with the meeting said family
members questioned Mulally about Ford's decision to borrow $23.5 billion
to finance a turnaround, backing $18.5 billion of those loans with
company plants and assets. They also quizzed Mulally as to when the
stock dividend payments might be restored.
The company holds its annual meeting Thursday, and one shareholder
resolution calls for a one-share, one-vote voting structure, ending the
Ford family's right to cast 16 votes for each of their shares. The
company opposed the proposal and the family's vote probably defeat it.