Bill Ford Jr. has upped his profile recently as the three automakers negotiated for assistance with Congress over a cash infusion. According to a recent NY Times story, Ford, unlike G.M. and Chrysler, does not need a bailout to stay in business.
"While Ford's chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, joined his counterparts from G.M. and Chrysler in testifying before Congress last week, Ford is not asking for an immediate bailout from Washington for now.
The company has enough cash on hand $18.9 billion, as well as a $10.7 billion line of credit with private lenders that will keep it running through 2009 without cutting development of its next generation of more fuel-efficient cars.
While Ford cannot continue to burn cash indefinitely, it is also not on the verge of bankruptcy like G.M. and Chrysler. And the health of the company presents a unique opportunity for Mr. Ford, 51, who has been chairman of the company since 1999 and served five years as its chief executive."
Ironically, Ford's cash troubles of a few years back -- which caused the company to basically mortgage the farm to start in a new product direction -- might have placed the company in a better position with respect to its rivals.
Two years ago, Ford was seen as the riskiest bet in the industry to survive when it mortgaged nearly all its assets, even its blue Ford oval trademark, to secure a huge line of credit.
Now, with the collapse of the credit market, G.M. and Chrysler cannot borrow money on their assets and could face insolvency by the end of the year without federal assistance.
If the story is true and Ford CEO Alan Mulally really didn't need to be sitting on the hot seat with his peers in front of Congress getting grilled last week, then Ford missed a huge PR opportunity to differentiate itself in the public consciousness.