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Quick Hits: Ford to Offload Mazda Stake

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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Ford (F) wants to raise about $540 million by selling part of its stake in Mazda.

Ford plans to sell about 20% of its holdings in the Japanese automaker, cutting its stake to about 13%. Ford saved Mazda from bankruptcy 12 years ago and first invested in the Japanese automaker in 1979.

Ford needs the cash to survive as the auto industry struggles to recast itself in the worldwide economic downturn. Ford's US sales fell about 30% in October. The auto industry's 2008 sales are expected to be the lowest in 15 years and there is no rebound in sight.

Ford has cut salaries, eliminated bonuses and trimmed other expenses in an effort to conserve cash. But it hasn't been enough, and that's why Ford is selling part of its stake in Mazda.

The CEOs of Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler are scheduled to testify today before the Senate Banking Committee. The automakers are seeking a combined $25 billion in federal loans.

Ford and Mazda share auto frames and powertrains.

For more on auto-industry acquisitions, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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