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Nasser Joins Bank One's Venture Unit

November 12, 2002|From Reuters

Jacques Nasser, the former Ford Motor Co. chief executive who was ousted last year after a stormy 34-month reign as head of the world's No. 2 automaker, was named head of Bank One Corp.'s venture capital unit Monday.

Nasser, 54, will work in Detroit at the bank's One Equity Partners arm to find, evaluate and make investments worldwide. Chicago-based Bank One, the No. 6 U.S. banking group, has about a $3.7-billion venture capital portfolio. These units typically take early stakes in developing companies, with the aim of profiting when they are bought or sell shares to the public.

A hard-charging and controversial auto executive, Nasser was ousted as Ford CEO in October 2001, a year the company reported a $5.45-billion loss. He has since been blamed for a whole catalog of ailments at the automaker, which is in the midst of a multiyear turnaround effort aimed at restoring profitability.

Nasser told reporters Monday he still spoke with Ford Chairman William Clay Ford Jr., and felt loyal to the company. Ford went from a profit of $7.24 billion in 1999, the year Nasser assumed leadership of the company, and a profit of $3.47 billion in 2000, to its loss last year.

"I'd probably do a lot of things differently, but so would any person in any situation with the knowledge of hindsight," Nasser said.

Some described Bank One's linkup with Nasser as a good idea.

"I think it's a good and very creative hire," said Bear Stearns analyst David Hilder.

"I assume it's driven largely by Dick Cashin, who's the head of Bank One's private equity business," Hilder said. "Dick has spent a lot of time making very successful purchases of industrial companies and basic manufacturers. Obviously Nasser would be very effective in helping to evaluate these kinds of companies."

Nasser also will become nonexecutive chairman of imaging company Polaroid Corp., the bank said. An affiliate of One Equity bought Polaroid's business in July after the firm's bankruptcy filing last year.

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