Mazda to maintain alliance with Ford, company president says

by Hiroko Nakata

Mazda Motor Co. will maintain its alliance with Ford Motor Co., which owns one-third of Mazda’s stake, despite the ongoing realignment in the U.S. auto industry, Mazda President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki said Thursday.

Asked if his company’s alliance with ailing Ford will be affected by the Big Three U.S. automakers’ financial troubles and realignment, Imaki noted Mazda’s long-standing relationship with Ford, which dates to the 1970s, and said the two carmakers’ businesses are now well integrated.

“Therefore, our relationship with Ford will never change,” Imaki told a news conference to announce the firm’s quarterly earnings results.

Hiroshima-based Mazda said its net profit in the first half through September rose 2 percent from a year before to ¥29.5 billion on strong car sales in China and Europe. But it cut its full-year profit estimates by 28.6 percent to ¥50 billion, mimicking other carmakers feeling the effects of weakening global demand.

Besides the capital tieup, the two automakers have jointly invested in three plants, in the U.S., Thailand and China, and share projects on the development of compact and environmentally friendly vehicles.

Elsewhere, Detroit media are reporting that General Motors and Cerberus, which owns Chrysler, are moving closer to a broad agreement on merging.

Cash-strapped Ford has reportedly been looking to sell part of its stake in Mazda, Japan’s fifth-largest carmaker, to a number of Japanese firms, including Mazda itself.

Imaki said Mazda could not comment on the reported stock sales by Ford.