Hiroshima Bank, other companies ante up to purchase Mazda shares

Kyodo News

Most of the purchasers of Ford Motor Co.’s shares in Mazda Motor Corp. have now been determined, after Hiroshima Bank stepped forward to buy a stake of up to 5 percent, sources said Tuesday.

Ford, which in 1979 entered a capital tieup with Mazda and hiked its stake to 33.4 percent in the then financially distressed carmaker in 1996, is reportedly planning to unload a large portion of its Mazda shares — as much as two-thirds of its entire stake — to obtain cash to ease its financial troubles, according to the sources.

Mazda intends to purchase about half the shares Ford is selling, the sources said, adding that the Ford subsidiary and other parties concerned have been searching for purchasers of the remainder.

Calculated at Tuesday’s closing quote for Mazda stock at ¥284 per share on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a stake of 5 percent would cost the sizable Hiroshima-based regional bank some ¥20 billion.

The bank wants to help support the Hiroshima-based automaker, which has its head office as well as a network of factories and subcontractors in the prefecture, the sources said.