Originally created 09/19/06

Auto merger buzz won't stop



DETROIT - General Motors' talks with Renault and Nissan on a possible alliance and reports that Ford might be pursuing a big deal with one or more of the three are examples of how today's automakers constantly look for ways to collaborate even amid fierce industry competition.

GM and Ford Motor Co. declined to comment Monday on an Automotive News story that their high-level executives discussed a merger or alliance. Ford also declined to comment on last month's Wall Street Journal report that Ford proposed its own deal with Renault and Nissan.

In July, General Motors, Renault SA of France and Nissan Motor Co. of Japan announced a 90-day review of a possible alliance among them.

Auto executives talk frequently about "what-if scenarios" and possible deals large and small, said David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

"These kind of discussions go on all the time," Mr. Cole said.

These talks have yielded a growing number of joint efforts on everything from hybrid vehicles to better automatic transmissions, he said.

GM and Ford have been slashing their work forces and closing plants in efforts to reverse multibillion-dollar losses in the face of tough competition from Asia-based automakers. On Friday, Ford announced deeper job cuts as part of its "Way Forward" restructuring plan.

GM lost $2.9 billion, or $5.19 per share in the first half of 2006, while Ford lost $1.3 billion, or 70 cents a share.

BLAMING BUREAUCRACY


DETROIT - Ford Motor Co.'s bureaucratic management structure must be streamlined to get the struggling automaker back on its feet, departing Ford executive Anne Stevens told the Detroit Free Press.


"The company has too many layers, the company is too bureaucratic and it takes too long to get things done," Ms. Stevens said Sunday, three days after Ford announced she is retiring as the No. 2 U.S. automaker's chief operating officer for the Americas on Oct. 1.


- Associated Press