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Edsel Ford II to Retire From Credit Unit

Autos: The great- grandson of Henry Ford will become paid consultant to Ford Motor Co.

April 10, 1998| From Reuters

Edsel B. Ford II, the most senior Ford family member employed by the auto company founded by his great-grandfather, said Thursday he will retire as president of Ford Credit but remain on the board.

Ford, 49, son of Henry Ford II, said he plans to increase his community affairs activities and act as a paid consultant to the Ford Motor Co. after he retires from Ford Credit, the company's financing arm, on May 1.

"I'm at a point in my career, when my age and nearly 25 years of service, the responsibility of the Ford name, and my father's legacy in Southeast Michigan community affairs, puts me at a crossroads," Ford said.

Ford Credit has not yet named a successor.

Edsel Ford's decision apparently clears up questions about where he fits in the management changes being brought on by the approaching retirement of Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Trotman at the end of 1999.

Industry insiders and published reports have said William Clay Ford Jr., 40, Edsel Ford's cousin who is known as Bill Ford, is expected to be the company's next chairman. Jacques Nasser, president of Ford's automotive operations, would be named CEO, reports have said.

In addition to Edsel Ford and Bill Ford, the only other family member on the auto maker's board is William Clay Ford Sr. The Ford family controls 40% of Ford Motor's voting stock.

There also have been reports that Edsel Ford was dissatisfied he had been unable to move higher in the company's management structure. He has been president of Ford Credit since May 1991. When Ford Credit Chairman William Odom retired a year ago, the board named Kenneth Whipple, who heads all of Ford's financial services, as the chairman and CEO of Ford Credit, leaving Edsel Ford's title unchanged.

Last August, a published report said Edsel Ford would replace Thomas Wagner as the vice chairman of customer satisfaction. At that time, Edsel Ford denied the story.

Ford Credit spokeswoman Della DiPietro said the company does not comment on speculation involving Ford family members and management moves.

Details have not been finalized on how much Edsel Ford will be paid for his consulting work on issues affecting the company's 10,500 dealers, DiPietro said.

Once Edsel Ford retires, the only Ford family member with an operational job will be Eleana Ford. A daughter of Edsel's sister, Charlotte Ford, she works in a finance department connected with the product development operations.

Ford Motor Co.'s stock rose $2.38 to close at $46.88 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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