Ford chairman nearly doubles stake in supervoting shares: filing

Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:13pm EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Bill Ford Jr, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) and great-grandson of the company's founder, nearly doubled his holdings in a special class of supervoting shares that gives the Ford family more sway over the automaker's direction.

The Ford family scion acquired nearly 3.7 million Class B shares on June 19, according to a previously unreported securities filing posted last week. He now owns about 8.1 million Class B shares, including shares held in trusts for others, including his children.

The shares were transferred to Bill Ford from a family member. Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel on Wednesday declined to provide other details, saying it was a personal transaction within the Ford family.

Class B shares make up less than 2 percent of outstanding Ford shares, but hold 40 percent of the voting power. Bill Ford now holds close to 11.5 percent of the nearly 71 million Class B shares held by the descendents of company founder Henry Ford.

Bill Ford's expanded stake could be a comfort to investors at a time when the second-largest U.S. automaker is navigating the next delicate steps of its turnaround, some investors said.

Ford is currently expanding in China and overhauling its luxury Lincoln brand. The company must also find and develop a successor to Chief Executive Alan Mulally, who has led Ford since 2006 and plans to stay through at least 2014.

Company insiders and analysts widely expect Mark Fields, the automaker's current chief operating officer, to fill Mulally's shoes.

"The more control (Bill Ford) has versus the other members of the family is probably more beneficial to the company because he's very, very invested," said Eric Turner, global equity analyst for Turner Investments, which invests in auto stocks and has previously owned shares in Ford.   Continued...

Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford speaks to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom