Ford confident could secure government credit line

DETROIT Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:59pm EST

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive and President Alan Mulally (L), Executive Chairman Bill Ford (2nd L), President of the Americas Mark Fields and Group Vice President of Product Development Derrick Kuzak (R) pose next to the 2010 Taurus sedan during press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, January 11, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive and President Alan Mulally (L), Executive Chairman Bill Ford (2nd L), President of the Americas Mark Fields and Group Vice President of Product Development Derrick Kuzak (R) pose next to the 2010 Taurus sedan during press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, January 11, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) remains confident that the automaker could secure a U.S. government line of credit if needed, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said on Monday.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, has not asked for government loans, but told lawmakers last year that it would like a $9 billion line of credit from the government as insurance against a potential worsening in the U.S. economy.

"We believe the mechanisms are there," Booth told Reuters at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Rivals General Motors Corp (GM.N) and Chrysler were approved for $17.4 billion of government loans to avert collapse, while Ford has said it hoped to receive access to a line of credit.

The automaker has had discussions with the Bush administration and the transition team working for President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office next week.

Ford has not publicly updated its request for a $9 billion line of credit or its forecasts for U.S. sales, but executives have said volatility is the "new normal" for the industry.

"We still believe there is a good chance for a recovery starting in the second half," Booth said, adding that until there is the start of a recovery, it would be hard to be confident about the future and what that means to Ford's plan.

"That is exactly why we want the line of credit," he said.

Making predictions on the recovery in auto sales will be very difficult until credit flows more freely for consumers, Booth said.

"When will the credit markets begin to unfreeze," he said. "How long and how deep will this very difficult financial period be, that is a fundamental issue at stake here."

(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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