US car industry investor sells stake in Ford


KIRK KERKORIAN, a longtime investor in the US car industry, has abruptly sold his 6.1 per cent stake in Ford.Kerkorian’s investment firm, Tracinda, amassed the stake in April when shares in Ford traded at over $8. On Monday they opened at $2.25.

The sale signals a marked turnaround for Kerkorian who has seen the value of another Tracinda holding, the Vegas gambling group MGM Mirage, crumble. The 91-year-old financier is understood to be under pressure to meet debt obligations on a Bank of America loan.

In 1995, Kerkorian joined forces with Detroit legend Lee Iacocca in an unsuccessful takeover bid for Chrysler. When the company was sold to Daimler-Benz in 1998, Tracinda was the largest shareholder. Kerkorian later sued, accusing Daimler-Benz of misleading investors.

In the same era, Kerkorian built a 9.9 per cent stake in General Motors and campaigned for the firm to merge with Renault and Nissan. When that was refused Kerkorian dumped his investment and turned to Chrysler, by now cast from its marriage to Daimler. Kerkorian lost a bidding war for Daimler and soon looked to Ford.

“What we are looking for is a big, big hit five, six or seven years down the road,” said Jerome York, a senior Tracinda adviser, of Kerkorian’s Ford stake in April. Ultimately, Kerkorian started offloading part of his Ford stake in October.