Breaking: Suzuki Buys Ford
By Chris Haak
In a move that surprised nearly every industry analyst, Japanese automaker Suzuki has entered into an tentative agreement to purchase Ford Motor Company’s worldwide operations. Included in the deal are Ford’s US operations, Ford Europe, Ford Asia-Pacific, and Ford Latin America. Suzuki has tendered an offer to purchase all 3.78 billion outstanding shares of Ford at a price of $14.91 per share.
If the transaction is approved by Ford’s shareholders, Suzuki would instantly transform from an also-ran in the US market to a top-tier player, holding similar dominance in the US market to what it enjoys in India with Maruti Suzuki. Since Suzuki is not a full-line automaker in the US, the addition of the Ford vehicles will certainly bolster its lineup, particularly on the truck front.
The upcoming end of domestic Ford Ranger production will allow Suzuki (which is completely dropping the Ford Blue Oval logo and name) to fill that hole in the lineup with the Nissan-sourced Equator pickup. The former Ford F-Series trucks will become the Suzuki S-Series trucks. Kevin Saito, Suzuki America’s President, noted that he expects “the Suzuki S-150 to claim the title of the bestselling vehicle in America,” which would be quite a twist of fate for Suzuki, which has had its struggles over the years in the US.
On the car side, all Ford models will continue through their current lifecycle, but will get new names, many of which leverage Suzuki’s extensive heritage with two-wheeled vehicles. Since they’re bigger than the cycles and ATVs that donated their names, the motor vehicles all get the “Grand” prefix. Get it?
- Ford Mustang becomes the Suzuki Grand Hayabusa
- Ford Taurus becomes the Suzuki Grand Grand B-King
- Ford Fusion becomes the Suzuki Grand Gladius
- Ford Focus becomes the Suzuki Grand V-Strom
- Ford Fiesta becomes the Suzuki Grand Gurgman
- Ford Expedition becomes the Suzuki Grand XL7
- Ford Explorer becomes the Suzuki Grand King Quad
- Ford Flex becomes the Suzuki Grand QuadSport
- Ford Edge becomes the Suzuki Grand Boulevard
- Ford Escape becomes the Suzuki Grand Bandit
Lincoln models will continue under the Lincoln brand, but the Lincoln brand will be shuttered on December 31, 2012.
Suzuki plans to leverage its strengths in small cars, and Ford’s strenghts in large vehicles, to build some of the most desirable, capable vehicles on the road. The combined company is expected to challenge General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen AG for the spot of the world’s largest automaker within the next few years.
Morgan Stanley advised Suzuki on the transaction, and Goldman Sachs served in an advisory capacity for Ford. Once the transaction closes – which is expected to occur sometime in the fourth quarter of 2011 – Ford’s current President and CEO Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford will retire from the company.