More rumors of management changes at Ford

THE political snakepit that is the Ford Motor Company has been swirling with rumors in recent days that the current chief executive Jacques Nasser may be eased out of the company before the end of the year. It is not the first time that there have been such rumors and to date they have not proved to be true, despite Ford's troubles with the Firestone crisis and the company's poor performance on the stock exchanges.

The demise of Nasser, if it were to happen, could have an interesting effect on the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 program - which was one of Nasser's brainchilds. Much would obviously depend on who replaced the Australian but it is clear that Germany's Wolfgang Reitzle is quietly grooming himself for the role. Reitzle is currently in charge of the company's luxury division, the Premier Automotive Group. Reitzle has been a strong supporter of the F1 project despite it having to failed to produce much to date but as a political survivor he would no doubt axe the program at a moment's notice if that were to be necessary.

There are no guarantees that Reitzle would be the new man at the top and a Detroit politician might quickly axe the F1 plans as being unproductive.

William Clay Ford Jr., who is the chairman of Ford, has declined to make any comment on the rumors.

"I really don't want to talk about it today," he said.

The influential Forbes magazine reported recently that the Ford Family (which still owns 40% of the votes of the company) has lost confidence in Nasser.

Analysts in Detroit are saying that William Clay Ford might have been expected to come to Nasser's defence when presented with such a question but he chose not to do so. They see this as being significant.

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