Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday that it raised $1.4 billion through a 300 million share offer for $4.75 per share, a move that its chief executive said was an important step toward getting profitable again.

Ford said the proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including to fund a portion of its obligation to a union-run fund set up for retiree healthcare expenses.

Selling the stock is another key step in our plan to transform Ford into an exciting, viable enterprise poised to return to profitability, Chief Executive Alan Mulally said in a statement.

Issuing equity now and possibly funding a larger portion of its retiree obligations with cash would help Ford improve its balance sheet and reduce the potential impact of those obligations on its shareholders, Mulally said.

Ford is the only U.S. automaker that has not sought government aid.

The news came on a tough day for automakers.

General Motors Corp shares hit their lowest level since the Great Depression and Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> posted a loss and expected more because of the deep global auto downturn.

GM is less than three weeks from a June 1 deadline to reach agreement with its stakeholders to avoid a bankruptcy filing.

The downturn late last month forced Chrysler to seek bankruptcy protection, and has threatened the survival of numerous auto parts suppliers as well.