Major Corporate Shake-Up Puts Ford Woes in Overdrive

NEW YORK–Beleaguered automotive company Ford Thursday announced a major shakeup in its board of directors, with five corporate officers retiring effective Jan. 2002.

Among those leaving the Dearborn, Mich.-based company are 30-plus-year veterans James D. Donaldson, group vice president global business development; Vaughn Koshkarian, vice president Ford Asia Pacific and Michael D. Jordan, vice president Ford customer service division and president automotive consumer services group. James A. Yost, vice president corporate strategy, is retiring after more than 27 years at Ford; and Elliott S. Hall, vice president dealer development, is leaving after more than 14 years with the company.

In addition, Lincoln Mercury president Mark Hutchins said he will retire in 2002.

Ford’s management shake-up comes a day after its board of directors cut the company’s dividend for the first time since the Gulf War recession in 1991.

Ford’s $551 million net loss in the second quarter included a $3 billion pretax cost stemming from its replacement of 13 million Firestone tires. Ford also has been hit with sexual harassment suits that have hurt the company’s overall public image.

In August, Ford announced it was cutting up to 5,000 white-collar jobs in North America to reverse declines in sales, profitability and U.S. market share. Ford has said that more cost-cutting measures would happen in the fourth quarter. Contributing to the depression in Ford’s earnings is its Hertz rental car unit, where business has dropped by as much as 35 percent after the events of Sept. 11 as Americans reduced flying and cut back on renting cars at airports.