Ford offers European workers severance pay

BERLIN Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:23pm EDT

The logo of Ford is seen on a car while workers arrive at the Ford assembly plant in Genk September 18, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The logo of Ford is seen on a car while workers arrive at the Ford assembly plant in Genk September 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co, which expects to lose more than $1 billion in Europe this year, is offering severance packages to "a few hundred" white-collar European workers as the automaker struggles to rein in costs amid plunging vehicle sales.

Ford will make the buyout offers under three regional programs, for Germany, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, Germany-based spokeswoman Beate Falk said.

The effort is part of the No. 2 U.S. automaker's push to "achieve greater efficiencies in all of areas of the Ford of Europe business," Ford said in separate statement on Tuesday.

Ford will offer buyouts to employees and cut spending on contract workers and purchased services to reduce personnel costs, the company said in the statement.

Ford has been underperforming its peers in Europe, where consumer confidence has been hurt by the deepening economic crisis. Ford's European vehicle sales plunged 29 percent in August while overall industry sales fell 8.5 percent.

The company is cutting costs in the region as well as revamping its lineup to attract buyers. Earlier this month, Ford's top executives gave previews of several models to about 2,500 dealers in Amsterdam.

"There is a tremendous decrease in demand, but we're absolutely committed to Europe," Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said last week in New York. "That will involve some restructuring.

On Tuesday, Ford said it expects to cut "several hundred salaried positions" in Europe, but exact figures will not be known for a few months. The automaker said the buyout offers would be "purely voluntary."

The daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung first reported the news on Tuesday, in a report released in advance of publication Wednesday.

(Reporting By Andreas Cremer; additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit, editing by Jonathan Gould and Richard Chang)

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