Rumors of Ford selling part or all of its 33.4% share in Mazda have picked up steam this week since we first reported on them over the weekend, and analysts in Tokyo think a deal that "clears a cloud over Mazda" is imminent. Nikkei English News also reported that Ford has asked Japanese supplier Denso to purchase part of its stake in Mazda, but the Japanese news agency didn't claim any sources and Denso has declined comment in the matter. Most are guessing that potential buyers would include Mazda itself, as well as a number of companies over which the risk of investment could be spread, while Ford would likely hold on to at least some of its stake in the brand but lose its controlling share of the company.
Management from Ford and Mazda are largely silent regarding any possible deal, but Mazda spokesman Ken Haruki said that "nothing has been decided," which doesn't sound like much of a denial. There is no question that Ford needs cash to get through these turbulent economic times, and its share of Mazda is currently worth $1.33 billion based on Wednesday's share price, which itself has dropped 56% in the past year. The ownership status of Mazda is likely worth more than $1.33 billion, though, and anyone taking that title from Ford will surely have to pay a premium.

Even if Ford sells some or all of its stake in Mazda, the two companies would continue to share platforms, powertrains and components for a long, long time. That will help Ford continue to enjoy economies of scale while giving Mazda good hardware without the massive development costs.

[Source: Detroit News]

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