USA Today reported that Ford Motor Co. is considering taking the company private, a move that could give the ailing automaker time to restructure operations outside the glare of critics, a source with direct knowledge of the discussions said Wednesday (Aug. 24).
“The family is willing to look at anything,” said the source, who didn’t want to be identified because the discussions are ongoing. “A lot of different scenarios are being gamed out.”
With Ford’s shares trading around an anemic $7.76, going private could cost interested parties as little as $13.34 billion.
The Ford family owns about 5% of Ford’s outstanding shares. The family controls 40% of the company through a separate class of stock. The automaker had no comment.
Plummeting pickup sales have derailed Ford’s current restructuring plan, laid out last January, and the automaker plans to unveil an accelerated version in September. Through the first half of the year, Ford has lost $1.4 billion.
Top executives have said they are looking at every option available to turn Ford around, including selling off troubled brands such as Jaguar, entering into partnerships with other automakers, slashing its workforce and closing more plants. The company recently hired former Goldman Sachs banker Kenneth Leet to help it explore its options.
“The biggest benefit to taking it private is just not having to answer to all the external stakeholders they have to answer to today,” said Kevin Reale, an analyst with AMR Research.
Nearly 600 banks or investment firms own shares in Ford, according to Thomson Financial, and 790 mutual funds also have a stake in the automaker. Sixteen analysts cover Ford, issuing reports to investors when news breaks.
CEO Bill Ford has been criticized for several incidents since taking the job in October 2001. In 2002, he said the automaker would make $7 billion in pretax income in 2006. In April 2005, three weeks after saying it would still meet its goals, it revoked its earnings guidance and said it would no longer meet the $7 billion target, shaking investor confidence.