Few sights will get a store owner more excited than a customer pulling up in a shiny new Jaguar and ripping out a billfold full of crisp cash. Owners of Ford (NYSE: F ) might be excited as well, as billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian reiterated his tender offer for Ford shares, despite a 17% decline since the offer was announced.
Opting to ignore a stipulation that could have voided the offer when the shares fell below $7.38, Kerkorian will press forward in his quest to acquire 20 million shares at $8.50 each. Clearly, Kerkorian was unphased by the company’s recent announcement that it will not return to profitability in 2009 as previously forecast.
Both Ford and rival General Motors (NYSE: GM ) are undergoing major overhauls in their quest for profit and relevance in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Both companies have aggressively pursued cost reductions and laid off thousands of workers; they are shifting manufacturing focus away from trucks and SUVs to smaller, more gas-efficient models.
For Kerkorian, the tender offer would bring his combined stake in Ford to 120 million shares, more than a 5% stake. The question now is whether he intends to parlay that stake into either a seat on the board of directors as he did with GM, or a less public form of influence. One thing is certain: Kerkorian is no stranger to the automotive industry. Despite a laundry list of challenges, Kerkorian must have identified something in Ford's restructuring that he feels provides a competitive edge going forward. Given his expertise in the industry, Fools would do well to keep an eye on Ford and discover what Kerkorian sees.
When he pulls up to the next shareholder meeting, Kerkorian should leave the shiny Jag at home, though -- Ford sold the Jaguar line to Indian automaker Tata Motors last summer, and unemployed auto workers might not appreciate the display.