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Analysts see a Ford in Renault/Nissan's future

Analysts see a Ford in Renault/Nissan's future

The collapse Wednesday of General Motors Corp.'s potential alliance with Nissan and Renault has revived speculation that Ford Motor Co. might step into the breach.
Ford shares rose 4 percent, the same increase triggered by an August report that Bill Ford, Ford's chief executive at the time, had approached Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., about linking the three automakers.
Ford, however, refused to say Wednesday whether it was interested in an alliance with the two foreign automakers, and analysts downplayed the likelihood of a partnership forming anytime soon.
"This is not a big surprise. GM management has appeared less than enthusiastic about an alliance all along," Morgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz said in a note to investors after GM, Renault and Nissan jointly announced they were calling off talks.
"This paves the way for Ford, but it may not be immediate. ... Ford management's seeming willingness to explore an alliance is a big difference versus GM," Steinmetz said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 23 that Bill Ford, now the company's executive chairman, had approached Ghosn about joining the global alliance. The story, attributed only to "a person well-positioned to know," triggered a 4 percent jump in Ford shares that day.
"Right now we're looking at things, but we've had no contact with Ford at this point that I'm aware of," Nissan North America spokesman Fred Standish said Wednesday. "But we don't know what the future may hold."
Bank of America analyst Ronald Tadross said Ford appeared more likely than GM to benefit from purchasing savings as part of a Nissan-Renault alliance. But he said there was only a "mixed probability" of such a coalition arising, and he kept his rating of Ford shares at "neutral."
Ford shares rose 33 cents to close at $8.56 on the New York Stock Exchange. GM shares were down 9 cents at $33.32.
"We're not engaging in any speculation regarding the possibility of future talks" with any other automakers, Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said Wednesday evening. "Our top priority is the turnaround of our North American business."
Dearborn-based Ford's updated "Way Forward" plan aims to cut $5 billion (nearly euro4 billion) in costs by the end of 2008 by slashing 10,000 white-collar workers and offering buyouts to all of its 75,000 unionized employees. The plan also eliminates the company's 5-cent-per-share quarterly dividend.
Automotive News reported two weeks ago that high-level executives with GM and Ford discussed a merger or alliance last summer, but that those talks were not ongoing.
"We as a regular practice talk to just about everybody in the world. ... We are open to ideas for projects that create value," GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said during a news conference Wednesday. He declined to comment further.
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Associated Press Writer Rose French in Nashville contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://www.ford.com
http://www.gm.com
http://www.nissanusa.com
http://www.renault.com


Updated : 2021-06-15 15:15 GMT+08:00