Lear plans share buyback
DETROIT - Lear Corp., the world's largest maker of automotive interiors, plans to buy back as much as 10 percent of its shares and has adopted a takeover defense.
Lear's buyback plan includes up to 6.7 million common shares and is part of an effort to boost its lagging share price. Lear's share price has declined about 37 percent during the past year, hitting a 41/2-year low.
Lear, of Southfield, Mich., also approved a plan to allow shareholders to buy preferred stock at a discount following a tender offer by an acquirer. The move is aimed at discouraging unsolicited buyers. The plan was not adopted in response to a specific threat, Lear CEO Ken Way said in a statement.
For more on supplier stock buybacks, see Page 16.
GM committed to EV program
DETROIT - General Motors will not abandon its electric vehicle program despite its recall Thursday, March. 2, of about two-thirds of its EV1 electric cars and Chevrolet S10 electric pickups.
'We remain committed to advanced technology vehicles,' said Bob Purcell, GM's executive director of advanced technology programs. He said the EV1 has been 'a tremendous learning exercise' and called electric propulsion systems 'the foundation' for developing other alternative power sources, including hybrid engines and fuel cells.
The recall includes 450 1997 EV1s and 450 S10s from 1997 and 1998. That's all the electric S10s ever built and half of the EV1 fleet, which includes 500 second-generation cars not being recalled.
A component failure in the vehicles' charge port can cause heat buildup or fire during charging. The cars likely will be recalled permanently.
GM is talking to EV1 owners about replacing their cars. They will be offered second-generation EV1s, but only 150 of the 500 built are still available. GM can build more but has not made plans to do so.
Marketing exec quits at Mazda
LOS ANGELES - The top Mazda North American Operations executive for marketing and advertising has resigned from the company for undisclosed reasons.
Ron Neale, director of marketing, will be replaced by Kristen Simmons, who previously was Mazda's group manager of brand strategy and communications. Simmons joined Mazda nine months ago, arranging the launch of the Tribute sport-utility.