It's great timing that Visteon Corp.'s restructuring package came together just days before Chairman Peter 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. 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 for the UAW, Visteon, Ford and Wall Street - at least for investors who bought Visteon shares after the price sunk to a hat size.
It's not so good for salaried employees. Those attached to the holding company will be little more than overhead to any company that buys the discarded operations. Those left at Visteon in staff positions are sure to be downsized. (Disclosure: My wife worked at Visteon from March 2000 to August 2004.)
And it's not good for Delphi, which becomes the only supplier paying automaker wages.
Ironically, the new Visteon will look pretty much the way some of its early leaders envisioned. They thought an independent Visteon should be technology-focused, without the manufacturing baggage that came with the glass, chassis and powertrain operations.
But Ford - insiders point to Jacques Nasser - insisted those operations be part of Visteon.
Chief among the technology visionaries was Charles Szuluk, who left IBM to run Ford's electronics operations before becoming president of Visteon Automotive Systems.
And how's this for irony? When Szuluk headed electronics, he reported to Frank Macher, who was vice president and general manager of Ford's Automotive Components group - which morphed into the Visteon in 1997, not long after Macher left Ford. Now Macher is back and must manage and sell the operations that should have been divested in the last millennium.
Considering everything that has happened, maybe the idea of an independent Visteon should have been discarded back then, too.
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