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Ford Motor Officials Meet With Auto Task Force

AP
Friday, 27 Feb 2009 | 4:33 PM ET

Ford Motor executives met Friday with the Obama administration's auto industry task force but the company said it was not seeking emergency financial aid.

Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally did not participate in the meeting at the Treasury Department, spokesman Mike Moran said. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker declined to list the executives who attended.

Ford
Paul Sancya
Ford

"Ford is in a different position and our situation has not changed," Moran said.

"We did not and are not seeking emergency financial assistance from the government."

Executives with General Motors and Chrysler and representatives of auto parts suppliers met separately with members of the task force earlier this week. The meetings have been led by Wall Street financier Steven Rattner and Steelworkers union official Ron Bloom, who are advising Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the talks.

Ford mortgaged all its assets to borrow roughly $25 billion. It has avoided taking government loans like U.S. rivals General Motors and Chrysler, which have received $17.4 billion in loans. GM and Chrysler outlined requests for an additional $21.6 billion in aid in progress reports submitted Feb. 17.

The task force is trying to restructure GM and Chrysler amid an economic recession and a steep dive in auto sales and are working with the companies, the United Auto Workers union and bondholders to revamp the automakers by a March 31 deadline. If the Obama administration fails to approve the GM and Chrysler turnaround plans, they could call back the loans and force the companies into bankruptcy.

During hearings before Congress last year, Ford said it may need to access a $9 billion line of credit from the government if market conditions deteriorate, but the company has not requested the funding.

Ford still faces significant challenges. United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger urged union members this week to approve contract concessions to Ford, saying the company would not be able to survive long-term without major restructuring. Gettelfinger said in a letter to union members that Ford lost $14.6 billion last year.

Ford is making buyout or early retirement offers to all 42,000 U.S. hourly workers and the union has agreed to take in the form of stock 50 percent of the payments that Ford is required to make into a union-run trust fund for retiree health care expenses.

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