Ford Motor Co. is now officially unrepresented in the board of Mazda Motor Corp. This came as the last Ford appointee on Mazda's board, Thomas Pixton, left the Japanese carmaker following its June 27 annual shareholders' meeting. Pixton’s exit from Mazda signals the end of an era that is marked by Ford’s control of the Japanese carmaker’s board.
Ford first acquired a 25 percent stake in Mazda in 1979, when the latter was struggling financially. Mazda’s financial troubles once again paved the way for Ford to acquire additional stakes and increase its ownership to 33.4 percent in 1996.
However, fiscal winds changed directions and headed to Ford in 2008, forcing the carmaker to slowly divest its stake in Mazda to boost its emptying coffers. In a span of two years, Ford saw its stake in Mazda dwindle to 3.5 percent. In 2012, Ford sold another tranche of shares to effectively reduce its stake in Mazda to 2.1 percent.
During Ford’s dominance in Mazda, the US carmaker was able to enthrone four of its executives as successive presidents of its Japanese partner. However, Ford’s control of Mazda as well as the number of board representatives dwindled as its stake decreased.
Despite the end of its involvement in Mazda, Ford remains as a partner in other ventures. Ford and Mazda still jointly own the AutoAlliance International Inc assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich.; Mazda, however, decided in June to indefinitely suspend output of its vehicles at the plant. Both carmakers are also involved in a three-way joint venture in China with Chongqing Changan Automobile Co.; but they are assessing ways to break the venture up so that Ford and Mazda can have separate operations in China.
Ford and Mazda also jointly own the AutoAlliance (Thailand) Co., assembly plant. The good news is that, the carmakers said in April 2012 that they will invest around $27 million to increase the plant's annual pickup capacity by 20,000 units to 195,000 units.