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October 24, 2002
BY BILL KOENIG
BLOOMBERG NEWS

NEW YORK -- Ford Motor Co. President Nicholas Scheele shouldn't have disclosed that the world's second-largest automaker's Jaguar unit will lose about $500 million this year, Chief Executive Officer William Clay Ford Jr. said.

"Somebody spoke more than they should have" about Jaguar at the Paris auto show last month, Bill Ford told investors at a presentation in New York. "We try not to talk" about losses for specific brands, he said. The CEO also said that he was "not going to deny that number" and that the Ford family may buy more of the automaker's shares, which have fallen 42 percent this year.

Scheele, who also is chief operating officer, discussed the loss in a Sept. 26 interview with reporters and said it was partly because of delays in introducing the aluminum-body XJ sedan. He said yesterday in Birmingham, U.K., that if he hadn't disclosed the loss, "it would have been pretty obvious later on. It was pretty obvious that I was going to get asked if we weren't shipping XJs."

The automaker is reviewing whether to disclose financial results by brand, spokesman Ron Iori said. "It's something we're looking at and will decide later."

The comments about Scheele may reflect that Bill Ford, who took the CEO post in October 2001, "is relatively new in that job," said Mike Flynn, director of the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Automotive Transportation "Normally if you don't want to make too much of it, you grit your teeth."

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker lost $5.45 billion last year, prompting Bill Ford in January to announce a plan to cut jobs, close plants and introduce new models to generate $7 billion in pretax profit by 2005. The plan calls for luxury models, including Jaguar, to produce about a third of the profit.

"We think this is a pretty attractive area," Bill Ford said when asked if the Ford family might buy more of the shares. He is the first member of the family to be CEO in more than 20 years.

The family controls about 40 percent of voting power at the automaker through 71 million Class B shares. Individual family members including the CEO also own common shares. The family has three seats on the company's board: Bill Ford; his father, William Clay Ford; and the CEO's cousin, Edsel Ford.

Bill Ford became CEO when the board ousted Jacques Nasser. The new CEO named Scheele, who had returned the company's European business to profit, as president and chief operating officer. Scheele also is a former head of Jaguar, where he restored profit after the unit was losing as much as $1 million a day.

The chief executive said Monday at an investors meeting in Boston that he was "very comfortable with the team I've got."
 
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