Ford Motor Co. director Kimberly Casiano and CEO Bill Ford are fast friends these days. But it wasn't always so. "Kim and I, frankly, started off hating each other," Bill Ford said Dec. 16, introducing Casiano at a Detroit business luncheon. That was 30 years ago at Princeton University, where both were students. Bill Ford recalled receiving a "thorough tongue-lashing" from Casiano after he piped up in a Latin American history class. But the two made up, and Ford said he now counts Casiano "as one of my very closest friends." She became a director in 2003. But Casiano, president of Casiano Communications Inc. in San Juan, Puerto Rico, still can be tough. Upon taking the podium in Detroit, she promptly reminded the CEO: "What you didn't know 30 years ago was that I would be your boss, right?"
Ex-battlers now board buddies
MATH MEETS BUSINESS -- Carmakers spend a bundle to create, research and register model names. But Sedici, the name of Fiat's first SUV, cost nothing, thanks to a 7-year-old boy. One Sunday morning this fall, Fiat brand director Luca De Meo was telling a friend that Fiat would introduce a vehicle he referred to as a "4x4." De Meo's son Giulio, who was studying multiplication at school, promptly said, "Dad, 4x4 is Sedici" (16 in Italian). After some quick research on its use, Fiat Auto registered the name. At the very least, the kid ought to get a great Christmas present.
CEO DOES THE LIMBAUGH -- General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner ventured into territory usually foreign to automotive chief executives: daytime talk radio of the right-wing variety. On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Wagoner was a guest on Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio show. But Wagoner didn't spout off on gun control, the death penalty or abortion. He talked about high health care costs, the quality of Big 3 vehicles and other issues critical to the auto industry. And what did Rush say? Well, he wasn't around; a sub was sitting in for Limbaugh that day.
IPO'S A GO -- They were common in the 1990s, but initial public offerings have been rare in the auto industry during the past four years. But shares of DealerTrack Holdings Inc., which provides electronic contracting services to dealerships through major auto lenders, began Nasdaq trading on Dec. 13. DealerTrack, of Lake Success, N.Y., set a price of $17 a share for 10 million shares, but share prices rose as high as $20 before trading later in the week at just over $19.
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