News & Reports News Year 2010 November , 2010 Ford no longer biggest Mazda investor

Ford no longer biggest Mazda investor

US carmaker Ford Motor will sell most of its stake in Mazda Motor, after three decades of being the Japanese automaker's biggest shareholder.
Ford plans to sell the bulk of its 11 percent investment in Mazda as many US and Japanese automakers have split years after they forged alliances in the 1970s, AFP reported.

The move is seen by some analysts as being aimed to give the US company more flexibility in operations in China, but the 6.5 percent reduction in stake does not mean an end to strategic partnership between the two.

"Mazda and Ford have agreed to continue their strategic partnership and this change in shareholding will not affect Mazda's business direction or financial projections," Mazda said in a statement on Thursday.

"Ford will remain one of Mazda's largest shareholders with a 3.5 percent stake, and both companies are committed to continuing our strategic partnership, which spans over 30 years," said Mazda President and chief executive Takashi Yamanouchi.

Earlier, Ford said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that it wanted to dissolve a three-way venture in China with Mazda and Chongqing Changan Automobile Co.

Instead, Mazda and Ford would establish separate bonds with the Chinese company.

Ford owned more than one-third of Japan's fifth-largest automaker at a point in 1979 after it purchased a quarter of Mazda's outstanding shares. But stripped of cash in the wake of the global economic recession, the US car giant started to peel off its stake in the Hiroshima-based Mazda in 2008.

The decoupling comes after recession-hit US General Motors (GM) had to sell its stakes in Japanese truck maker Isuzu Motors, car maker Suzuki and Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of the Subaru.

The world's top automaker Toyota Motor has also shut down a plant in California that it jointly owned