Ford Motor Co, the only U.S. automaker not to file for bankruptcy this year, has a sound balance sheet and is seeking to further reduce debt, Chief Executive Alan Mulally said on Wednesday.
We're in really good shape with the balance sheet with where we are right now and as soon as we get to profitability and positive cash flow as we've said in 2011 we will accelerate the improvement in the balance sheet, Mulally told reporters on the sidelines of the National Summit in Detroit.
Mulally said Ford was continuing talks with its major unions in the United States and Canada and hopeful that the Obama administration's support for rivals General Motors Corp and Chrysler, both of which filed for bankruptcy this year, would be temporary.
Ford is in discussions with the United Auto Workers union on steps to improve its cost competitiveness, Mulally said.
The topics under discussion with the UAW include a no-strike provision that is part of contract changes approved by workers at GM and Chrysler, but not among alterations adopted by Ford workers earlier in 2008.
That's just one piece of the conversation we're having with them, Mulally said. I don't know the details with regard to what's been decided for our competitors.
GM and Chrysler both have reached cost cutting deals with the UAW and have or will pass through bankruptcy protection with substantially reduced debt versus Ford, which raised more than $23 billion in late 2006 to support its restructuring.
Ford supported temporary emergency aid for GM and Chrysler for the good of the U.S. economy and the industry, Mulally said. I've been encouraged that the government has said they don't want to be in the car business and want to get out as quickly as possible.
Mulally also said he has been talking to the Obama administration and the task force on a regular basis even as Ford moves ahead on its restructuring without emergency aid.
In the areas where everybody's concerned like the supply base and the lack of credit, I will continue to work with the administration, Mulally said.
Ford shares edged up 6 cents to $5.73 on the New York Stock Exchange early Wednesday afternoon.
(Reporting by David Bailey; Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki and Poornima Gupta; Editing by Richard Chang)