Bloomberg's Doron Levin shifts focus away from the media frenzy surrounding the plan to merge General Motors with Renault-Nissan and points out something quite interesting: poor credit, escaping market share, reliance on gas-guzzlers, and a bleeding cash flow sheet are problems Ford shares with its bigger Detroit-area neighbor, making it too a prime candidate for a merger.

So what would stop Ford's shareholders from attempting a similar shakeup? The Ford family. While it holds only four percent of the company's equity, the family controls 40 percent of the voting shares of special class-B stock created in 1956 with the company's initial public offering. The situation leaves others involved with the company without enough power to take a stand like investor Kirk Kerkorian did with GM.

Levin goes one step farther to say that it's actually the Ford family that is responsible for the company's new low, and that its insistence to hang onto voting shares might even be responsible for keeping the Renault-Nissans of the world at bay. WIth the appointment of William Clay Ford, Jr. to the helm, Levin says, "the family gambled on taking management in its own hands and lost."

Ouch.

What do you think? Is the Ford family's power-hoarding (if that's what it is) what's holding the company back? Or is Levin using them as a scapegoat for problems common to the North American automotive industry?

[Source: Bloomberg]


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