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May 12, 2008
Old Kirk Kerkorian
Wandering the Neighborhood Again
Mr. Waggoner called Mr. Ford down the street:
just want to let you know there’s a strange old man who’s been wandering
the neighborhood,” Mr. Waggoner said. “He has wavy gray hair and a
wrinkled face like a catcher’s mitt. He’s going around to all the houses
and blathering on about money or something.”
Mr. Ford thinks he’s heard about this guy before.
“Right, right . . . Mr. Iacocca saw him too,” Mr. Ford said. “He always
wants to come in your house and says he can pay for all kinds of crazy
remodeling. Then he’ll never leave? That guy? Ends up sitting on your
couch in his underwear watching Jay Leno when you’re trying to get the
kids in bed?”
Mr. Waggoner confirms it.
“That’s the guy! If he shows up, don’t let him in. Whatever you do. It’s
almost impossible to get him to leave.”
Mr. Ford thanks Mr. Waggoner for the heads-up, only to look down the
steps of his porch and gulp:
Yep, 90-year-old Kirk Kerkorian is wandering the neighborhood again, and
now he’s decided to show up at the doorstep of Ford Motor Company –
armed with millions of dollars and lots and lots of big plans.
Having already served his stints as the Crazy Billionaire Uncle at both
General Motors and Chrysler (where he attempted several hostile
takeovers, one with deposed CEO-for-Life Lee Iacocca in tow), Kerkorian
is now trying to buy up lots and lots of Ford.
fact, he already has. In April, Kerkorian bought 100 million shares –
about 4.7 percent of the company – and this week began openly soliciting
to buy another 20 million shares of Ford common stock at $8.50 a share,
which means Old Catcher’s Mitt Face is willing to shell out an
additional $170 million to become the proud owner of about 5.5 percent
of what may be the most unprofitable company in the history of business.
The company expressed complete surprise when told that Kerkorian had
already bought up nearly 5 percent of the company, even though he
announced his intention a month ago to do exactly that. Ford executives.
Nothing gets past them!
Ford’s board is urging its shareholders to take no action, even while
company executives claim to “welcome” the investment and say it shows
their turnaround plan is working.
Ford lost $2.7 billion in 2007 (you have to think counterintuitively;
this is actually a good year by Ford standards), and in the first
quarter of 2008, the company shocked the world by turning – are you
sitting down? – a $100 million profit.
That must mean that Kerkorian will be perfectly happy to just be a
silent investor. In fact, his investment company, Tracinda, put out a
statement saying in part that it “believes Ford is an attractive
investment. It does not have a present intent to acquire or influence
control over the business of Ford.”
That must be why Kerkorian’s right-hand man, Jerry York, is publicly
calling for Ford to sell Mercury and Volvo. Because Tracinda doesn’t
want to influence any control.
Kerkorian’s return to the scene is always welcome as far as this
columnist is concerned. He’s a hoot. See Kirk try to take over Chrysler.
See Chrysler throw him out. See Kirk buy up a bunch of GM and make the
board very nervous. See Kirk bail on GM when he thinks he can take over
Chrysler again. See Chrysler hide in the basement until Kirk goes away.
See Kirk buy up 5 percent of Ford while its board isn’t looking.
Nothing beats when Kirk starts wandering the neighborhood again. Yet
it’s hard to imagine anything he might suggest, no matter how
outlandish, being dumber that what Ford has done to date. Maybe they
should listen to him.
After all, a 90-year-old billionaire can’t afford to risk $170 million,
can he? That wouldn’t be rational. How would he plan for his retirement
oh. There’s someone wandering up to your door! Pretend you’re not
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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