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Ford exec optimistic for ex-Visteon plants

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CHICAGO -- Ford Motor Co. is getting a lot of interest in the facilities it took back from former parts unit Visteon Corp. last year, but is not looking to just jettison the plants, a top executive said on Tuesday.

Ford agreed in 2005 to take back 23 facilities from Visteon as part of a bailout of the supplier, which Ford spun off in 2000. The automaker plans to keep two of the facilities and expects at some point to sell, or close, the rest.

The facilities in the Automotive Components Holdings Inc. "represent a good business value proposition," Anne Stevens, Ford's chief operating officer for the Americas, said after a Ford media dinner in conjunction with the Chicago Auto Show.

A sale of facilities from the holding company "has to be a fit," Stevens said. The holding company reports to Stevens.

Ford expects it to take a few years to sell the facilities, whose major customer is Ford. Ford is seeking buyers that have the capital and expertise to ensure that the facilities can supply Ford with quality parts at competitive prices.

Stevens declined to discuss details of buyouts or layoffs in connection with the restructuring plan Ford announced in January, beyond what has already been released.

Ford has announced plans to close 14 plants and cut up to 30,000 blue-collar hourly workers by 2012 to turn around its money-losing North American unit.

On Tuesday, Ford said it was close to an agreement with the United Auto Workers on buyout packages for workers at a St. Louis plant that will be idled for the restructuring. Ford has proposed five types of packages overall.

The program goes beyond capacity cuts to include plans to increase revenue, though that has gotten little attention, Stevens said.

"You can't cost-reduce yourself to profitability," Stevens said.
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