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Old 11-03-2004, 23:06   #1 (permalink)
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US:Ford, Goldman Sachs agree to settlement with holders

Ford, Goldman Sachs agree to settlement with holders

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has agreed, along with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to settle with shareholders who had argued that Ford Chairman Bill Ford had used his position to profit from shares in Goldman’s initial public offering.

Under the agreement, Ford said, Goldman will pay Ford $13.4 million, of which $10 million is earmarked for a Ford charitable fund.

The remaining money will be used to pay lawyers’ fees and other costs, Ford said.

The car maker Wednesday said the shareholders’ claims are “without merit” but that it had agreed to the settlement to “avoid the distraction and expense of litigation.” Neither company is admitting wrongdoing.

A shareholder suit and the settlement ending it were both filed Wednesday in a Delaware court, Ford said.

The dispute focused on Bill Ford’s allocation of 400,000 shares at $53 each in Goldman’s May 1999 initial public offering.

The shareholder group argued that the executive wouldn’t have received such a large allocation had he not been Ford’s chairman, and argued that the profits belonged to the auto maker, not the executive personally.

Goldman has a long banking relationship with the auto maker dating back to Ford’s own IPO in 1956.

At the time Bill Ford bought the shares, John Thornton, Goldman’s co-chief operating officer, sat on the auto maker’s board of directors. Thornton has since retired from Goldman, and is now professor and director with the Global Leadership Program, Tsinghua University in Beijing.

In February 2003, Ford’s outside directors found that Bill Ford’s decision to accept the IPO allocation didn’t violate Ford’s policies. Bill Ford then announced he would sell the shares and donate the proceeds to charity.
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