Ford’s Europe losses may hit $600M in 2012, retiring CFO says

Lewis Booth, who retires April 1 as Ford Motor Co.'s CFO, said the automaker may lose $500 million to $600 million this year in Europe where the financial crisis is exacerbating industry wide overcapacity.

"We'll continue to work on actions to improve profitability in Europe because we don't want to continue to lose money," Booth told reporters Wednesday in an exit interview at Ford's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters.

Ford will reduce the rate of European losses with better products and by "continuing to work on our cost base," he said.

Good profit in North America should offset the European losses and provide "decent" results for years to come, Booth said.

While noting that Ford's "fundamentals" may warrant a return to an investment-grade credit rating, Booth said the automaker may not reach that threshold this year.

Booth, 63, became Ford's finance chief in November 2008, as the automaker was completing a year in which it lost a record $14.8 billion and its share price fell as low as $1.26.

The shrinking market in Europe will force automakers to finally cut factory capacity there, said Booth, who ran Ford's European operations before taking the finance role.

"The European overcapacity is well understood," Booth said. "We have to see some actions in Europe to reduce capacity."

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