Ford Motor Co's
Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said late Wednesday it would convert debt to equity and make two cash tender offers that could retire up to $10.4 billion of the automaker's debt.
The automaker's announcement is the latest step Ford has taken to bolster its finances and carry out a turnaround plan without seeking emergency U.S. government loans. Ford is the only U.S. automaker not to seek government aid.
Private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP
Every company out there is doing some version of this, so it's not surprising, said Jeff Given, a portfolio manager at John Hancock in Boston, where he manages fixed-income assets, including Ford bonds. If you can put off the day of reckoning longer, that makes sense.
This puts them in a stronger financial position going forward, allows them to convert the debt to equity and helps recapitalize the entity, Given said.
Ford said it was making up to $2.2 billion cash available to restructure its debt. The company had $25.8 billion of automotive debt as of the end 2008.
While the move will help bolster Ford's balance sheet, it may weigh on Ford equity, Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson said in a research note.
Johnson maintains a $1 price target for Ford and said the company could retire more than $10 billion in debt, assuming full participation.
However, closer to $6 billion of debt could be retired using a more conservative participation rate of 60 percent, Johnson said in a note.
Assuming a 60 percent participation rate, Ford's share count could more than double by 2018, Barclays said.
Automaker bonds, including those of General Motors Co.
Ford's bonds were little changed, while GM's 8.375 percent bonds due in 2033 rose 1 cent on the dollar to 13 cents, as its yield fell to about 64 percent from 69 percent on Wednesday.
Those bonds traded as high as 21.5 cents in January to yield about 39 percent, according to MarketAxess data.
Ford had earlier reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers union on contract changes to reduce its labor costs.
The UAW had also agreed to accept up to half of required payments to a union retiree health care trust in stock, providing Ford with additional liquidity.
The UAW agreement is contingent on Ford pursuing restructuring action with other stakeholders, including debt reduction.
Ford said it will pay a premium in cash to persuade holders of its 4.25 percent senior convertible notes due December 15, 2036, to convert to Ford common stock.
Also, Ford's finance arm began a separate $1.3 billion cash tender offer for the automaker's unsecured, nonconvertible debt securities, and another $500 million cash tender offer for Ford's senior secured term loan debt.
Ford also announced its intent to exercise its right to defer future dividend payments on the 6.50 percent cumulative trust preferred securities of Ford Motor Company capital trust II beginning in April.
(Additional reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Kenneth Barry)