Bill Ford is doubling down on Ford shares and amassing more control of the company

DETROIT – Ford Motor Chair Bill Ford has been slowly amassing more shares, and control, of the automaker his great-grandfather based in 1903.

Unlike Elon Musk and different CEOs who've lately cashed out some of their company inventory as costs soared, Ford has been doubling down on his namesake company over the final decade.

The 64-year-old is the company's largest particular person shareholder with 2.3 million shares of Ford's widespread inventory. More importantly, he's additionally the largest holder of the automaker's Class B shares that carry super-voting powers which have allowed the Ford household to retain control of the company. While the Class B shares account for two% of Ford's excellent inventory, they control 40% of the voting energy.

Bill Ford straight owns 16.1 million, or 23%, of the Class B shares, that are solely obtainable to relations. That's quadruple the roughly 4 million, or 5.7%, he owned in 2012, in line with FactSet.

"I think it's really important that the family legacy continue. It gives us a face and maybe a humanity that a lot of other companies don't have."Bill Ford Jr.Chair

From Satya Nadella at Microsoft to Jeff Bezos and Musk, CEOs, founders and different company insiders have been cashing of their inventory at the highest tempo on file with $69 billion in inventory in 2021, as looming tax hikes and lofty share costs inspired many to take earnings.

Ford, whose stake has grown via his work as chair of the board, mentioned he's holding on to his shares as a result of of his "tremendous confidence" in the company's administration group, led by CEO Jim Farley, to ship on Farley's Ford+ turnaround plan focusing on electrical and related autos. Bill Ford obtained $16 million in complete compensation from Ford in 2020, which got here in a combination of advantages, money and fairness awards.

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Ford acquired 412,500 extra Class B shares final month which are being held in a household belief. The transfer got here roughly per week after he acquired virtually 2 million widespread shares of the company by exercising inventory choices, some of which had been set to run out.

Instead of cashing in on the $18 million in proceeds he would have gotten from exercising the choices like most executives do, Ford paid $20.5 million in money in addition to taxes on the good points to carry on to the shares.

"I just feel like we are very well positioned to deliver superior shareholder returns and I for one wanted to be a big part of that," Ford informed CNBC. "I think in many ways we have an opportunity to create the most value for shareholders since the scaling of the Model T."


Unlike his predecessor, Farley has received investor confidence since taking up the helm in October 2020. Shares of the automaker have surged by about 270% since then, sending its market worth above $100 billion on Thursday for the first time ever. 2020 marked the first yr since 2001 that Ford's inventory has topped $20 a share.

The inventory closed Thursday at $25.02 a share, with the company's market worth at $99.99 billion. Ford's now price more than crosstown rival General Motors, which is valued at about $90 billion.

Under Farley's Ford+ plan, the company is pivoting onerous to EVs, together with the Mustang Mach E and all-electric Ford F-150, in addition to related providers to generate recurring income. The company expects an 8% adjusted revenue margin earlier than curiosity and taxes in 2023 — sooner than many analysts anticipated.

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"The Mach-E and the Lightning, both their order banks just overwhelmed us," Ford mentioned. "We're on this electrification journey, but it's more than that. It's connecting to the customer, it's all the services that will be developed around electrification."

Family shares

Ford straight owns about 20.3 million shares, together with restricted, widespread and Class B inventory. The holdings, which can exclude some trusts, had been price more than $500 million as of Thursday's closing worth.

There are 71 million Class B shares price about $1.8 billion held by descendants of company founder Henry Ford. The Ford household's voting energy diminishes as soon as their Class B shares fall beneath about 60.8 million.

Some have criticized the dual-share system for unfairly permitting the household to retain control of the automaker. Ford has repeatedly defended the dual-share construction as permitting the automaker to pay attention more on the long run and not be one other "nameless, faceless corporation."

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"I think it's really important that the family legacy continue," he mentioned. "It gives us a face and maybe a humanity that a lot of other companies don't have."

The dual-class inventory construction, which has been in place since the company went public in 1956, has confronted quite a few shareholder challenges. At final yr's shareholders assembly, 36.3% of voters supported a system that gave each share an equal vote, barely larger than the 35.3% common since 2013.

Ford believes his inventory possession helps his protection of the household's shares and voting energy. Ford mentioned he can't keep in mind, if ever, promoting Ford shares in the open market. That doesn't embrace exercising choices, transferring shares to trusts or changing widespread shares to Class B inventory.

"I'm in this for the long haul. This is my life and I love the company," he mentioned. "I really believe that we are headed for an incredible future."

– CNBC's Robert Frank contributed to this report.

Correction: Henry Ford was Bill Ford's great-grandfather. The headline on an earlier model misstated the relationship. Ford's inventory closed Thursday at $25.02. An earlier model misstated the day.

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