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Ford to close Brazil manufacturing operations after more than a century

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The automaker said that it will close two factories in Brazil immediately and a third by the end of the year, ending sales of three locally made models: the Ecosport, Ka and T4.

Detroit

FORD Motor Co is ceasing manufacturing operations in Brazil after more than 100 years of building cars in the country as part of a restructuring that will eliminate 5,000 jobs and result in about a US$4.1 billion charge.

The automaker said on Monday that it will close two factories in Brazil immediately and a third by the end of the year, ending sales of three locally made models: the Ecosport, Ka and T4. The job losses are mostly in Brazil but also include workers in Argentina, it said.

The cuts are part of an US$11 billion global restructuring started under former chief executive officer Jim Hackett and now continued by his successor, Jim Farley. The company will incur about US$2.5 billion in pretax charges against earnings for 2020 and another US$1.6 billion this year.

The latest plant closings come after Ford shut a heavy-duty truck factory in Brazil in 2019, taking a US$460 million charge. Ford will be left with one major factory in a region where founder Henry Ford established a presence early last century.

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"We know these are very difficult, but necessary, actions to create a healthy and sustainable business," Mr Farley said in a statement.

The move is aimed at helping Ford achieve an 8 per cent pretax profit margin globally. South America has been a persistent money loser for most of the last 16 years. The company reported pretax losses of US$386 million there in the first three quarters of last year. Ford will report its fourth quarter earnings on Feb 4.

"The market simply doesn't and isn't going to support our current cost structure in the region," TR Reid, a company spokesman, said in a media briefing. "What we're doing will help us create a sustainably profitable business in that part of the world."

Ford said it will continue to sell vehicles in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, including the Ranger midsized pickup built at a plant in Argentina and Transit commercial vans imported from the US. BLOOMBERG

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