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Ford hit by £3.8bn worldwide loss

Ford Motor Company has blamed worldwide restructuring charges, low volume at its US operations and “significantly higher” marketing and product costs for a record £3.8bn loss last year. In 2000, it returned profits of £2.42bn on the back of a buoyant international market.

The carmaker is confident of returning to breakeven this year, with restructuring well underway in the US, citing the improved performance at its European operations. There, a shake-up saw a £25m loss in 2000 turn into profits of £190m last year. North America lost £1.5bn, after making profits of £3.51 in 2000.

Ford also suffered a drop in profits at its Credit division, which was hit late last year by rising losses. It contributed a profit of £836m, down from £1.07bn in 2000. In the final quarter, Ford Credit made just £4.2m, compared to £286m a year earlier.

Chairman and chief executive Bill Ford said: “This was a challenging, difficult year for the Ford Motor Company and our financial performance was unacceptable.

“As outlined in our revitalisation plan, we are committed to regaining our momentum and getting back on track. The difficult actions we announced last week will focus us on designing, building and selling the industry's best cars and trucks - and restoring the company's profitability.”

Mr Ford last week announced 22,000 job cuts and the closure of three car plants in the US. It also intends to dispose of non-core operations, including the Kwik-Fit repair chain in the UK and two US businesses: Collision Team of America, an accident repair network, and the GreenLeaf automotive recycling centres.

* The Chicago Tribune reports that Ford will end its £2.1bn programme to buy back Firestone tyres at the end of March.

Chief financial officer Martin Inglis said Ford had replaced roughly 9.5m of the 13.5m tyres included in the programme that began last May.

"We would think we still have another $400 million to spend on the programme," he told the newspaper.

The programme was launched after the tyres were blamed for causing several accidents in the US involving the Ford Explorer.

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