From Detroit Free Press
As Ford Motor Co. embarks on a historic revival plan, which the board of directors will continue to review today in Dearborn, MI, it will do so without Anne Stevens — one of the architects of the initial “Way Forward” restructuring and the highest-ranking woman in the automotive industry.
Stevens, a seasoned executive with experience in engineering, manufacturing and management, was promoted to chief operating officer of Ford’s ailing Americas division last October, and her resignation could come as soon as today, according to people familiar with the matter. She has worked at Ford since 1990. Stevens’ plan to leave the company is one of several crucial pieces in play as the revised rescue mission gets under way for the 103-year-old automaker. Ford posted a $1.4-billion loss in the first half of this year, and sales of its new vehicles are still falling.
Investors, who anticipate that a tough restructuring plan will be announced after the board meeting concludes today, drove Ford shares up 13 cents Wednesday to a $9.19 close — their highest level since October.
In the boardroom, nearly 40,000 jobs — about 6,000 more than announced in January — are on the chopping block, sources have told the Free Press. That has left communities in Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Virginia anxious to see the fate of their plants.
Meanwhile, many of the 80,000 Ford workers at those plants are eager to see whether they will get juicy buyouts to leave the company. UAW leaders and top Ford negotiators met late Wednesday to finalize the numbers on a national deal, a Detroit TV station reported.
At the same time, some of the 4,300 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers in the United States are already questioning a plan to slash their ranks — if it doesn’t include a provision to pay them for the phase-out of their stores.
Morgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz, in a research note to investors, projected that at its most aggressive, Ford could seek to cut 50,000 jobs by 2008, about 35,000 hourly workers and 15,000 salary workers. He predicted Ford would aim for as much as $6 billion in cost cuts, with most coming from hourly workers.
Copyright (c) 2006, Detroit Free Press