Its great timing that Visteon Corp.s restructuring package has come together just days before Chairman Pete Pestillo rides off into retirement.
After all it was Pestillo, as vice chairman of Ford Motor Co., who negotiated the labor agreements that led to the creation of Visteon and ultimately put the supplier in such a deep hole. The deal was cut at a time when Ford was scrambling to copy General Motors spin-off of its parts group into Delphi Corp.
Pestillo probably didnt know that his friend Bill Ford would ask him to step in, take Visteon public in June 2000 and then run it.
How bad was it? In five years as an independent supplier, Visteon has failed to report an annual profit. In fact, it lost $3.2 billion.
But this restructuring deal is characterized as good. Its good for the UAW, Visteon, Ford and Wall Street -- at least for those investors who bought Visteon shares after the price had sunk to a hat size. Its pretty ugly for those who invested early.
Its also not so good for the salaried employees. Those attached to the holding company will be little more than overhead to any company that buys those discarded operations. Those left at Visteon in staff positions are sure to be downsized. (In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that my wife worked at Visteon from March 2000 to August 2004.)
Nor is it good for Delphi, which becomes the only supplier paying automaker wages -- unless it can cut a deal or two of its own.
Ironically, the new lean, mean Visteon will look pretty much the way some of its early leaders envisioned. They thought an independent Visteon should be a technology-focused company without the manufacturing baggage that came with the glass, chassis and powertrain operations.
But Ford Motor -- some insiders point to Jac Nasser -- insisted that those operations be part of Visteon.
Chief among the technology visionaries was Charles Szuluk, who left IBM to run Fords electronics operations before becoming president of Visteon Automotive Systems. Szuluk bailed out for personal and family reasons 18 months before Visteon went public.
And how is this for irony? When Szuluk headed electronics, he reported to Frank Macher, who was vice president and general manager of Fords Automotive Components group, which morphed into the Visteon Automotive Systems division in 1997, not long after Macher left Ford for stints as CEO at ITT Automotive and Federal-Mogul.
Now Macher is back as CEO of the holding company. He must manage and sell the operations that should have been divested in the last millennium.
Considering everything thats happened, maybe the idea of an independent Visteon should have been discarded back then, too.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at