Japanese automaker Mazda remains committed to its 30-year-old technical and strategic alliance with Ford although the U.S. company is no longer its top shareholder, Mazda's chief said Monday.
Ford cut its stake in Mazda from 11 percent to 3.5 percent last month, marking a symbolic shift in a longtime U.S.-Japan auto alliance.
Mazda Motor Corp. President and Chief Executive Takashi Yamanouchi said the two companies will continue to cooperate through joint ventures and technology exchange, and Mazda has no plans to find a new equity partner.
"I think it's natural for people to think that Ford is moving away from Mazda, but I also want to draw attention to the fact that they still decided to retain a 3.5 percent stake in Mazda," Yamanouchi said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
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The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker became Mazda's biggest shareholder in 1979 when the Japanese car maker was near collapse. It raised its stake to 33.4 percent in 1996, but reduced that to 13 percent in 2008. It had declined to about 11 percent more recently.
In addition to helping Mazda avert bankruptcy, the Hiroshima-based automaker benefited from Ford's expertise in marketing, sales and financing, Yamanouchi said. Meanwhile, Mazda helped Ford executives with manufacturing and quality control, he added.