At the time the loan was issued, the move was viewed as bold and risky, as Ford literally bet the farm that it could pay back the $23.5 billion. But as it turned out, the automaker's head start on restructuring allowed it to weather the financial crisis and resultant industry downturn in 2008 without declaring bankruptcy and needing government intervention like its cross-town rivals.
The upgrade from Moody's is said to potentially help Ford by lowering its borrowing costs, and certainly having its assets back should allow everyone in Dearborn to sleep peacefully tonight.
Scroll down to read Ford's official statement.
DEARBORN, Mich., May 22, 2012 –The following statement can be attributed to Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company:
"The Ford Blue Oval is back where it belongs with the Ford family of 166,000 employees around the world. This is a great day for us and is the result of several years of hard work and progress by everyone associated with Ford.
"When we pledged the Ford Blue Oval as part of the loan package, we were not just pledging an asset. We pledged our heritage. The Ford Blue Oval is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, and it is a source of great pride and passion, both inside and outside our company. Getting the Ford Blue Oval back feels amazing, and it is one of the best days that I can remember."
The following statement can be attributed to Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer, Ford Motor Company:
"We are so proud of today's decision by Moody's and the resulting release of all collateral – particularly the Ford Blue Oval. This is an important milestone and further proof that, by staying laser-focused on our One Ford plan, the Ford team can deliver great products, build a strong business and contribute to a better world even through the most challenging external environment.
"Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. We are confident that, by staying focused on our plan and working together, we will maintain strong investment grade ratings through all economic cycles."
December 2006: Raised $23.5 billion in liquidity, consisting of $18.5 billion of senior secured debt and credit facilities, secured by substantially all of our domestic assets, including the Ford Blue Oval, F-150 and Mustang trademarks, and $5 billion of unsecured convertible debt.
November 2007: Together with the UAW, Ford negotiated a transformational labor agreement, with a lower wage structure for new employees and flexible work rules
March 2009: Reached ground breaking UAW agreement that helped the company achieve parity with transplant automakers, resulting in incremental annual savings and efficiencies
October 2009: Reported first quarterly pre-tax operating profit since Q1 2008
Year-end 2009: Achieved a full-year operating profit and net income of $2.7 billion – an improvement of $17.5 billion from the losses of 2008
Year-end 2011: Reported third year in a row of improved annual operating profits and reduced debt by more than $20 billion compared with year-end 2009
September 2011: Completely paid back the loan
March 2012: First dividend payment in almost six years