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Ford family still in the driving seat

The Ford family has retained control over the Ford Motor Company by defeating a motion to implement a one share, one vote policy at the Detroit-based manufacturer. The proposal was put forward at the company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders yesterday. Although 27% of shareholders voted in favour, 73% voted against.

The Ford family currently controls 40% of the company even though it holds less than 4% of the stock. Chairman Bill Ford (pictured), great-grandson of company founder Henry, said that investors were still attracted by the long-term stability provided by the family’s involvement.

However, one shareholder was less than impressed, it has been reported, saying: “A benevolent despot is not what I want. I want a democracy.” Bill resigned from the role of CEO in September 2006 amid falling sales.

During the meeting Bill also welcomed investment in Ford by US billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the three-time owner of moviemaker MGM. He said he would like to thank Kerkorian’s Tracinda holding company for their confidence in Ford’s business plan. Tracinda – named after Kerkorian’s daughters Tracy and Linda – is currently upping its interest to 5.6%.

Ford is not the first car manufacturer that Kerkorian has been involved with in the last few years. He bought a 10% stake in General Motors in 2006 before selling it within a year after failing to force GM into a three-way alliance with Nissan and Renault. He also made an unsuccessful $4.5 billion bid to acquire Chrysler in 2007.

To read Families in Business’s 2005 interview with Bill Ford, click here.

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