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Ford gives Fields extra $1M to stay at least 2 years

Special retention bonus for automaker's revival leader follows several top-level departures.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co., which has seen numerous senior executives leave in the past year, gave Americas Group President Mark Fields a $1 million "special retention bonus" that he'll have to pay back if he leaves within two years, according to a securities filing.

"Ford provides compensation packages that are competitive with the industry," said Ford spokeswoman Becky Sanch. "This board-approved retention payment reflects this commitment."

Fields, 45, was promoted in September to lead Ford's Americas unit and is charged with turning around its struggling North American operations, which lost $1.6 billion in 2005. He was the chief architect of Ford's recently announced restructuring plan that cuts 30,000 factory jobs and shutters 14 plants by 2012.

Over the past year, a number of senior executives have left, including Phil Martens, group vice president and head of product creation for North America; Matt DeMars, vice president of North American vehicle operations, and Roman Krygier, vice president in charge of manufacturing. Steve Lyons, the automaker's group vice president of North American marketing announced his retirement in January. Vice Chairman Greg Smith announced his retirement in February.

Ford also disclosed in the 10K filing that Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. will receive restricted stock equivalents for 2005, which convert to Ford Motor shares after one year. He plans to donate the value of the compensation to charity, the filing said.

Bill Ford said last May that he would "forgo any compensation at all" until the company's automotive operations achieved "sustainable profitability."

Last March, the compensation committee of Ford's board set a formula under which he would get restricted stock equivalents for 2005. Bill Ford will donate "any final award he receives from this 2005 performance-based opportunity" to charity when the equivalents convert to shares, the filing said.

The CEO "will not take part in any similar program or receive any salary, bonus or long-term compensation for 2006" unless the auto profitability target is met, according to the filing.
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