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Kerkorian Takes Larger Stake In Ford

Billionaire investor's Tracinda Corp. increased its stake in Ford by about 20 million shares to 6.49 percent from 5.5 percent.

DETROIT (AP) -- Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. reported Thursday it has increased its stake in Ford Motor Co. by about 20 million shares to 6.49 percent from 5.5 percent.

Tracinda now owns 140.8 million shares in the automaker, according to the investment company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing came two days after Chief Executive Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford met with officials from Tracinda including Kerkorian to discuss the Dearborn-based automaker's transformation plan.

A Ford spokesman didn't have an immediate comment early Thursday on the filing.

In the filing, Tracinda reiterated its previous statements that it may propose business strategies for Ford and has explored a possible capital infusion to give Ford more flexibility in implementing its turnaround effort.

Kerkorian, 91, has tried to leave his mark on Detroit's auto companies during the past decade, and his accumulation of Ford shares has been closely watched.

Ford's stock price has declined in recent weeks as consumers grapple with record-high gasoline prices and a sluggish economy, dampening automobile sales. Ford said earlier this month that it no longer expects to return to profitability by 2009 and is cutting North American production for the rest of the year.

On Wednesday, Ford shares fell 5.8 percent to $6.22.

Kerkorian's company has expressed confidence in Mulally and Ford's management team and completed a tender offer last week to buy 20 million Ford shares for about $170 million that increased its stake to 5.5 percent.

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