Originally created 02/11/99

Ford chief quiet on BMW deal



CHICAGO -- Ford Motor Co. President Jac Nasser declined Wednesday to rule out a possible acquisition of German automaker BMW AG, but said he believes BMW and its major shareholders when they say they want to remain independent.

Mr. Nasser wouldn't confirm or deny a German news report that Ford was about to hire former BMW board member Wolfgang Reitzle. He said he didn't want to jeopardize Mr. Reitzle's position by commenting while Mr. Reitzle was still negotiating terms of his departure from BMW.

Mr. Reitzle, who had once been considered the next in line to head BMW, resigned Friday in a management shake-up that also resulted in Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder's ouster. The German news agency VWD reported that Ford would hire Mr. Reitzle as head of global development.

BMW also declined to comment on the report, attributed to unidentified sources.

Ford, flush with $24 billion in cash, recently announced plans to buy Sweden's Volvo AB for $6.5 billion. The deal is awaiting Volvo shareholder approval.