Jacques Nasser

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Jacques Nasser

Jacques Al-Salawat Nasruddin Nasser (born 27 December 1947[1] in Amyoun, Lebanon;[2] Arabic جاك ﭖﳳﴼىگک نصر ) nicknamed "Jac The Knife" because of his penchant for cost-cutting, is a business executive, most known for his infamous tenure as CEO of Ford Motor Company, serving from 1999 until 2001. He is Lebanese, and was raised in Australia and received a business degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne.[1] He speaks fluent English, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese.[3] His marriage to Jennifer in 1970 lasted 30 years and produced four children before they divorced in 2000.

Overview

At age 20, Nasser joined Ford in 1968 as a financial analyst in its Australian unit.[1][3] He moved rapidily up its management ranks. In 1973, he joined the company's financial staff, transferring to Ford's North American Truck Operations.[3] He returned to Australia and worked as a manager of profit analysis and product programming/timing.[3] He then joined Ford's International Automotive Operations, resulting in management tenures in Ford's Asia-Pacific and Latin-American operations. In 1987 he became vice president of Finance and Administration for Autolatina, a joint venture between Ford and Volkswagen in Brazil and Argentina.[1][4] He was promoted to the chairman of the board of Ford Europe, to vice president of Ford Motor Company in 1993, group vice president of product development in 1994.[3] In 1996, he headed Ford Automotive Operations.[3][5] In Europe, he also served in 1999 as the executive vice president of Ford Automotive Operations.

On 1 January 1999,[1] he became CEO of Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, earning an annual salary of US$12 million. Nasser was known for his sharp cost-cutting efforts with Ford's components supplier base, in an attempt to maximize profits and shareholder's dividends. Using the business models of non-automotive companies like Dell Computer and some of the "Dot-com" firms as benchmarks, Nasser sought to increase the company stock "price to earnings ratio" (P/E ratio) from the low single-digit levels of most automotive factory-industrial corporations, to the astronomical levels achieved by the benchmark firms, before the "Dot-com bust".

In an effort to expand the company's portfolio of products, global market share, and revenues, Nasser set out to consolidate the automotive industry, with the multi-billion US$ purchase of Volvo Cars from the Volvo group of Sweden, Range Rover from BMW and consolidated Mazda under the Ford portfolio. It was also reported that Nasser made overtures to Honda and BMW to propose an acquisition and/or merger of each respective company. Under the banner of making Ford Motor Company "the world's number one provider of automotive products and services", Nasser also purchased several non-core businesses, such as automotive salvage yard chains, repair service shops, and recycling facilities.

Nasser submitted his resignation on 29 October 2001, officially retiring from Ford.[1] He was succeeded by William Clay Ford Jr.

After leaving Ford, Nasser became a senior partner in One Equity Partners, a subsidiary of Bank One. After the bankruptcy of Polaroid Corporation and its eventual acquisition by One Equity, Mr. Nasser served as Polaroid's non-executive chairman and oversaw its restructuring from 2002 to 2005. Three and a half years after filing for Chapter 11, Polaroid was sold to Petters Group Worldwide for $426 million. Chairman Nasser and CEO J. Michael Pocock walked away with $12.8 million and $8.5 million, respectively. More than 4,000 retirees, meanwhile, received one-time checks for $47, and lost their medical and life insurance benefits.

Carlos Ghosn who became CEO of Renault and Nissan Motors is also of Lebanese descent, and Nasser considers him a good friend.

Nasser is currently a non-executive director on the board of BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining corporation.

Controversy

Throughout Nasser's tenure, there were serious concerns about his abrupt, sometimes abrasive management style and treatment of subordinates. It has also been said that Nasser's tough business practices and hard-nosed manners unsettled and alienated Ford's supplier network, dealerships, and most notably, its employees. Nasser diverted most of management's attention to new initiatives and lost focus on the core business of making great automobiles, critics argue. He also implemented a controversial management performance review system that alienated and divided the management. Also, some felt that Nasser's initiatives to promote diversity were an example of reverse racism.

Nasser's stubborn public demeanor while he was testifying before the Congress in the Firestone / Ford Explorer tire investigation proved to be a public relations problem for the company. At the same time, his business acquisitions drained billions of dollars from Ford's cash reserves. As the US economy began to slump after September 11 and oil prices rose to lower demand for SUVs, Ford's cash cow, the company lost $5.5 billion in 2001, with 75% drop in stock value and market capitalization. The reliability and safety ratings of Ford's products hit a new low under Nasser's direction, and Taurus and Crown Victoria were the only Ford models to get a good safety rating. Nasser was eventually replaced on 30 October 2001 by William Clay Ford, Jr., who was serving as the Chairman of the Board at the time. With Mr. Ford becoming Ford's CEO, the Ford family admitted that they would most likely only support Ford Motor Corp being run by a member of the Ford family. On 5 September 2006, however, Alan Mulally, a senior executive at Boeing Co., became Ford's CEO.

The media took another jab at Nasser due to the discontinuation of the Taurus, which had been a revolutionary vehicle. It is believed that if Nasser had put more effort into updating the model, it may have recovered from its sales slump. He has been blamed as the primary cause for Ford's current financial problems.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 [|The Associated Press] (30 October 2001), Ford Shuffle Bios 
  2. Riley, Mark (3 November 2001), "Run Over By A Ford", The Age: 3 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Fourth Annual 'Car Guy of the Year' Award Goes to Jacques Nasser.", PRNewswire, 20 December 1999 
  4. PR Newswire Europe (13 February 1998), "Jacques Nasser, President, Ford Automotive Operations, Will Address 1998 New York International Auto Show", PR Newswire Europe 
  5. [|Dow Jones News Service] (10 October 1996), "Ford's Parts -2: Sets Up Nasser As Likely Chmn's Successor", Dow Jones News Service 

See also

Business positions
Preceded by
Alexander Trotman
Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company
1999 — 2001
Succeeded by
William Clay Ford, Jr.