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Ford Panel to Review IPO Claim

December 13, 2002|From Associated Press and Bloomberg News

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.'s board of directors has formed a committee to review a shareholder claim that the automaker itself -- not just its chairman -- should have had the chance to purchase shares in brokerage Goldman Sachs' initial public offering in 1999.

The House Financial Services Committee disclosed in October that Goldman allocated 400,000 shares of its IPO to William Clay Ford Jr., the great-grandson of the automaker's founder and now its chairman and chief executive.

In a Nov. 13 letter to the company, an attorney for shareholder Roger Berger called for the board to investigate and recover potential damages for not getting to invest in the shares at the same time. The attorney, Robert Curry, said Ford would not have received the allocation were it not for his position.

Shares of Goldman, which were offered at $53 a share on May 3, 1999, rose to a peak of $132 by September 2000. They closed Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange at $74.23.

Berger wants the executive's shares or the profit from their sale -- which would now be about $8.4 million -- to be transferred to the company.

Jim Vella, a spokesman for the automaker, did not say when the board committee would complete its review.

Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas Van Praag has said the IPO allocation was appropriate based on the more than 50 years that Ford's family has used Goldman as a private investment manager.

The automaker also has chosen Goldman for banking business that has generated fees for the brokerage.

In October, congressional investigators said Goldman Sachs offered shares of IPOs to executives of at least 20 companies that had steered lucrative business to the firm.

Goldman has denied any inappropriate actions.

William Clay Ford Jr. on Thursday defended his investment in the stock. In a message to employees, he said the purchase was "not related in any way to company business."

He was nonexecutive chairman of Ford at the time Goldman went public. He became CEO in October 2001 after ousting Jacques Nasser.

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