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Ford family succeeds in retaining voting control after challenge

The Ford family, who control the US-based automaker of the same name, retained their multiple voting shares through which they control the business at the company's annual shareholder meeting yesterday.
 
The proposal to reconsider the two-tier share system was put forward by activist investor Ray Chevedden and was rejected by a 70.8% majority. This is the sixth year in which the resolution has been voted on and this year saw it gain the most support so far with 29.2%.
 
When asked about the resumption of dividend payments, which were stopped in 2006 as part of a turnaround plan instigated by non-family CEO Alan Mulally, fourth-generation chairman Bill Ford Jr (pictured) said: "It's very early days in our recovery. The most important thing we can do as a company is to get our balance sheet strengthened and in order."
 
"At some point in the future if we continue our progress, and we expect that we will, that will be a topic for discussions. It's on a lot of our family's mind," he continued.
 
Ford was the only US automaker not to receive state aid to stave of bankruptcy during the financial crisis, however the company still recorded losses of nearly $15 billion for 2008. The following year was better for Ford, which ended in profits of $454 million for 2009, and the sale of Volvo in March this year finally draws a line under the excesses of the past. (Continue reading here)
 
The Ford family still controls the business through its 71 million Class B voting shares. Bill Ford works alongside four other family members, including three fifth-generation cousins, at the company founded by his great-grandfather in 1903.

Related link: Activist investors: friend or foe?

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