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Mulally makes first visit to Mazda HQ

The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally visited his company's Mazda Motor Corp. affiliate for the first time, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. The Japanese carmaker announced losses from currency trading and cut its full-year net income forecast.

"I fully expect the deep ties between Ford and Mazda to extend into the future and become even stronger," Mulally said in a release issued Tuesday by Mazda, 33 percent owned by Ford. He visited Mazda's head office in western Japan's Hiroshima Prefecture.

Mulally's visit comes after Mazda trimmed the net income forecast on Feb. 8. Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, posted a net loss of $12.7 billion last year as it spent money to cut jobs and close plants and yielded more domestic market share to Asian rivals led by Toyota Motor Corp.

Ford hired Mulally from Boeing Co. in September. Mulally in December met Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho in Japan in what the companies said was a courtesy call.

Mazda, Japan's fourth-largest automaker, lost money on currency hedging, offsetting its gain in operating profit from a weaker yen. The company expects net income of 73 billion yen ($611 million) in the year ending March 31, down 11 percent from its previous forecast. That would be a 9.4 percent rise from last year's profit.

Mazda plans to unveil its long-term business strategy next month, including plans to expand global production capacity and develop environmental technology, the company said in January.

Ford and Mazda formed a capital alliance in 1979. Mazda has been leading the development of the next generation of compact cars to be sold under both companies' brands. Ford's Edge and MKX crossover wagons are among 10 models the U.S. automaker is basing off Mazda's Mazda6 sedan.

Shares of Mazda, which have declined 5.4 percent since the company lowered its net income forecast, fell 0.4 percent to 730 yen at the 3 p.m. close in Tokyo.
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