FORD BUYS REMAINING HERTZ SHARES Ford Motor Company will acquire the remaining publicly held shares of car-rental company Hertz for $35.50 per share. With the offer, better than the $30 per share that Ford offered in September, Ford hopes to complete the deal to assume ownership of Hertz by April.
GM PROFITS DOWN 51 PERCENT General Motors has reported fourth-quarter profits down 51 percent, with earnings dropping to $609 million, $1.15 per share. The company's quarterly revenue fell from $46.3 million to $45.0 million. GM attributed most of the profit drop to its overseas operations, although GM's overall market share in the U.S. dropped from 27.9 percent to 27.3 percent.
OPEL CHAIRMAN RESIGNS The chairman of Opel AG, Robert Hendry, has resigned from his position. Hendry's resignation comes after Opel reported an operating loss of $924 million in 2000, a significant contributor to GM's poor financial performance. Hendry blamed a slow turnaround of the division and an underestimation of sluggish German demand as reasons for his departure. He also recommended that GM appoint someone more familiar with the European market to the post.
AUTO LAYOFFS TRIPLED IN 2000 According to a Detroit News report, auto industry layoffs tripled in 2000, versus 1999, spurred by the downward slump in the last half of 2000. Auto layoffs in 2000, at 85,231, were at their highest levels since the early 1990s, although overall unemployment rates remain low.
LONGTIME FORD SAFETY/ENVIRO CHIEF PETRAUSKAS RETIRES Ford Motor Company has announced that Helen Petrauskas, the company's vice president in charge of environmental and safety engineering areas, will retire later this year. Petrauskas's career at Ford will have spanned thirty years, and she has held her current position since 1983. She most recently had to defend Ford against the full force of the press, consumer groups, and government agencies over issues regarding the Firestone tire recall and Ford's involvement in the matter. Petrauskas will be replaced by Susan Cischke, DaimlerChrysler's senior vice president for regulatory affairs and passenger car operations.
FORD EARNINGS DROP; EURO OPERATIONS DO WELL Ford Motor Company has released fourth-quarter earnings that dropped drastically, although within expectations, considering the industry slowdown. In the quarter, Ford earned $1.2 billion, down from $1.8 billion a year earlier. Automotive operations earnings fell to $762 million, from $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 1999. Ford's European operations posted a $33 million earnings figure, up from a $30 million loss the previous year, a sign that Ford's restructuring plan is working in Europe.
DC RESTARTS PRODUCTION AT TWO IDLED PLANTS DaimlerChrysler has ceased shutdowns at two assembly plants, due to higher-than-expected demand. The plants that will wake from their slumber include the Toledo, Ohio, plant that builds the Jeep Cherokee, and the Windsor, Ontario, plant that builds Chrysler minivans. Chrysler officials say that the change in plans is attributed to very conservative production forecasts for the first quarter.
BIG-RIG CRASH STUDY INITIATED Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater has initiated a two-year study into the causes of crashes that involve large trucks. The study is part of an initiative announced last year to reduce the number of truck crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the study, which will dispatch investigators to crash sites to gather information for a database.