Ford and Mazda have had a relationship for over three decades and Ford has owned a controlling interest in the company for most of that time starting with their purchase of 25 percent of Mazda’s shares in 1979. You might not have noticed the influence since the Mazda’s of the ‘80s didn’t really tip the hand to any Ford ownership. That is until 1996 when Ford upped its stake in Mazda to 33.4 percent—a move that gave them management control over Mazda. If you remember back to that time, the Miata changed faces right about that time for the 1998 model year. Even when I was little I thought the front looked more Ford like. Just compare the light configuration to a Contour.

However, I digress. Automotive News reports that the Nikkei business daily ran a story that points to Ford reducing its stake in Mazda from the company’s current 11 percent share to a mere 3 percent. In a statement from Ford call this speculation. "Ford's ownership stake in Mazda remains unchanged," the statement said. "Ford continues to have a close strategic relationship with Mazda and we cooperate in areas of mutual benefit. We have no further comment on the speculation."

Nikkei believes that Mazda has asked their main lender Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Sumitomo Corp., and other major Sumitomo group firms to buy shares from Ford. As the old saying goes, “Many a thing said in jest.”  So is there any truth to this? For the moment we have to respect Ford’s comment and believe that they have no reason to hide the truth. It would be interesting to know what the ramifications of Ford reducing their stake would be.

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[Source: Automotive News]