DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- Continuing its aggressive efforts to reduce debt, Ford ( F - Get Report) said Thursday it will redeem $3 billion in preferred securities in March, reducing annual interest costs by about $190 million. As of December 31, the automaker reported debt of $19.1 billion, after reducing debt by $14.5 billion during 2010. Debt reduction has been
a recent priority for both Ford and GM ( GM - Get Report).
Thursday's move, announced after market close, has Ford redeeming all of its outstanding 6.50% cumulative convertible trust preferred securities. Holders will have the option to convert each security for 2.88 shares of common stock; conversions would diminish the amount of cash paid out by Ford. The last day of trading in the trust will be March 8, the New York Stock Exchange has indicated. The trust securities would be redeemed for $50.33 each, plus accrued distributions of about 54 cents per security. Redemptions may occur anytime before 5 p.m. March 14. Redemption will result in a one-time first quarter charge of about $60 million. "We remain focused on reducing our automotive debt as the core automotive business continues to strengthen," said CFO Lewis Booth, in a prepared statement. "We are committed to continuing to improve our balance sheet to lay a solid foundation for a strong and profitably growing business in years to come." Ford's 2010 debt reduction actions reduced annual interest costs by about $1 billion. The actions included prepaying $7 billion to the VEBA employee health care fund, repaying $6.7 billion to the 2013 revolving credit facility, converting senior convertible notes, reducing debt by $1.9 billion and making a term loan payment of $1.2 billion. During 2010, Ford's interest expense totaled $1.8 billion. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: