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is finalizing plans to sell shares in

Mazda Motor

to about 20 Japanese firms, including insurers, and will likely outline the deal by next month,


reports, citing local media.

Ford is considering selling some of its 33.4% stake in Mazda as it struggles with weakening sales and the global credit crunch, according to a person familiar with the matter,



Ford reportedly is looking to sell 20% and that Mazda also will buy back some of the shares. Each company is to buy about 1% in Mazda, the equivalent of about $40 million based on Mazda's market value on Thursday, and Ford is expected to raise some 100 billion yen ($1 billion), media said.

Ford doesn't want to sell Mazda shares to rival automakers because the two companies intend to continue their business partnership that includes operations of jointly owned factories in Thailand, China, and the U.S.

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This article was written by a staff member of