Ford returns to pawn shop to pick up its stuff
Let’s think back to 2006; In that year the Mustang with a V6 had 34 HP less than a Honda Accord coupe with a V6. One of its top selling models, the Explorer, had flipped and rolled its way into American car folklore a few years earlier, and destroyed a sales success almost unparalleled in history. American Autoworkers were becoming famous for the “Jobs bank”, which in a nutshell was a program that paid autoworkers not to work. The products, finances and the workforce were in need of some changes. However, the banks were not in the mood to loan to a company on its way out without some guarantee of repayment. In order to secure the loans the company needed it had to put down its most treasured possessions as collateral. Just like in the show Pawn Stars, Ford was asked the question; “Do you want to pawn or sell?” Ford pawned the rights to the trademarks on the top selling vehicle, the F-150, its coolest vehicle, the Mustang, and the Blue Oval logo.
Allan Mulally, the most successful auto executive in history, who was not an auto executive until he took over the top job at Ford, is now widely thought to be “leaving Las Vegas.” Yes, he seems to be on a victory tour of sorts and he deserves it. Today, Alan figuratively put on his cowboy hat and went back to the pawn shop to retrieve the trademarks and the Blue Oval logo. In a press release today Mr. Mulally said “We are so proud of today’s decision by Moody’s and the resulting release of all collateral – particularly the Ford Blue Oval. This is an important milestone and further proof that, by staying laser-focused on our One Ford plan, the Ford team can deliver great products, build a strong business and contribute to a better world even through the most challenging external environment. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. We are confident that, by staying focused on our plan and working together, we will maintain strong investment grade ratings through all economic cycles.”
There are many opinions and many viewpoints on the auto bailout in the US that took place about 2008. Here are some things that are facts and not opinions. Ford never took a bailout. It instead went to the bank and leveraged everything and got a loan for $23.5 billion (with a “B”). It was an all or nothing gamble and it worked. The other two large automakers formerly called American car companies (Chrysler had been owned by a German company, and is now owned by and Italian company) did not survive by their own merits and took taxpayer money to stay in business. Ford paid off the loan in 2011. Today Moody’s Investment Service returned Ford’s rating to investment grade.
Ford bet the farm back in 2006 and now has returned to health symbolized by the return of its trademarks it had pledged as collateral.