While GM is being swamped with the persistent rumors surrounding the addition/dissolution of Chrysler, Ford's rumor mill has been heading in the complete opposite direction. It appears Volvo is on the way out of Dearborn, but Mazda may be sneaking through the exit first. Recent reports since disputed by Mazda have Ford selling off a portion of its 33.4% stake in the Japanese automaker, which means the Blue Oval would lose majority ownership status. The Nikkei daily in Japan has been all over the Ford/Mazda story, and the latest news involves selling 20% of Mazda to 20 Japanese firms including some insurance companies, leaving Ford with a stake of around 13%.

Ford is allegedly unwilling to sell the shares to its competition, so splitting the Mazda shares in 20 small chunks makes picking up all the shares difficult. Besides five insurance companies, parts maker Denso, steel companies, and trading companies are also rumored to be taking part in the purchase. The price of 1% Mazda ownership is in the neighborhood of $40 million, and the total sale could approach $1 billion. Japanese media is reporting that any deal could be announced next month, and neither Mazda or Ford are saying a word at this point.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]