Posted by: Ian Rowley on November 18, 2008
Here’s an update on the speculation surrounding Ford and Mazda.
Mazda held a press conference this evening in Hiroshima, which confirmed that Ford will sell a 20% stake in the Japanese company in the morning. Mazda declined to name which investors will take a stake, but confirmed it will buy 7% itself. Ford CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement that the move enables Ford to raise capital and allow Mazda and Ford to “continue our successful strategic relationship.” Mazda President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki added that the share sale “will not result in any change in Mazda’s strategic direction.”
A new Mazda management team might make a difference, though. As well as the share sale. Mazda also announced that Imaki will step down as CEO. He is to be replaced by Takashi Yamanouchi who steps up from Executive Vice President. Imaki, who becomes Chairman, said the move was planned for April, but brought forward after Ford’s plans to sell its stake in Mazda came to light.
Mazda has also wasted no time cutting Ford’s influence on its board. CFO David E. Friedman and sales chief Dan Morris step down from Mazda’s board and return to Ford. Their replacements are Mazda lifers. After the reshuffle only one former Ford exec, Philip Spender, stays on the board at Mazda and he has given up key responsibilities including overseeing R&D, cost cutting, marketing, sales and quality assurance. Two general managers, David F. Stickel and Anthony S. Pastor also step down. Mazda just got more Japanese.