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May 16, 2017

Ford needs to make a ‘big and bold’ move to create shareholder value: Former Chrysler CEO

Ford's board needs shakeup to create value for shareholders: Former Chrysler CEO

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Ford needs to do something “big and bold” in order to create shareholder value, according to a former CEO of rival automaker Chrysler. Tom Lasorda’s comments come amid reports that Ford plans to shrink its workforce by 10 per cent as it works to boost profit and its stock price.

Shares of Ford (F.N) were trading down half a per cent as of 11:32 a.m. ET on the reports.  

“Ford is under pressure – particularly [CEO] Mark Fields – to do something,” Lasorda told BNN in an interview Tuesday, noting the reported move by Ford is primarily operational to save money and doesn’t create shareholder value.

“I think if Ford were to take a different approach in saying we’re re-shifting the type of people that we need in or company, from what I’ll say is advanced technology, software development and autonomous vehicle technology jobs, versus what I’ll call administrative work -- people would understand that.”

Lasorda added that the company needs to consider bringing younger, more tech-savvy people to its board of directors and cutting the 16 members of that board in half.

A person briefed on Ford’s plan to trim its workforce reportedly said the company plans to offer generous early retirement incentives to reduce its salaried headcount by Oct. 1, but does not plan cuts to its hourly workforce or its production.

When reached for comment, Ford didn’t confirm the 10 per cent reduction figure, but noted becoming “lean and efficient” remains a part of its plan to drive growth.  

“We remain focused on the three strategic priorities that will create value and drive profitable growth, which include fortifying the profit pillars in our core business, transforming traditionally underperforming areas of our core business and investing aggressively, but prudently, in emerging opportunities," Ford wrote in a statement. "Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work. We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation."

If Ford does cut its workforce, the move could put the U.S. automaker on a collision course with U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made boosting auto employment a top priority. Ford has about 30,000 salaried workers in the United States.

--With files from Reuters