As widely anticipated, Ford has today announced it is to sell a slice of its Mazda stake to help bolster its cash position. Ford retains a significant stake, but its influence within the Mazda boardroom will now be much reduced.

Under Japanese corporate law a 33.4% stake gave Ford effective control of the board. The stake will now be reduced to just over 13%

Ford stressed, however, that its relationship with Mazda will continue.

Under the agreement, the divestiture of Ford's shares in Mazda will be accomplished both through the sale of shares to Mazda and the sale of shares to a group of Mazda's strategic business partners. The sales of the Mazda shares will net Ford approximately USD540m.

"This agreement allows Ford to raise capital that will help fund our product-led transformation, and at the same time, allows Ford and Mazda to continue our successful strategic relationship in the best interest of both companies," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "Ford will continue to focus on the Ford brand worldwide and deliver the products our customers really want and value."

Ford and Mazda will continue their ongoing joint ventures, as well as the sharing of platforms and powertrains. Ford will remain Mazda's largest shareholder and will maintain a seat on Mazda's Board of Directors.

"The sale of Mazda shares by our partner, Ford, will not result in any change in Mazda's strategic direction and we will continue to accelerate our product-led brand improvement and cost innovation initiatives," said Mazda Chairman, President and CEO Hisakazu Imaki.

"We will continue our strategic relationship through our ongoing joint ventures with Ford, as well as the sharing of platforms and powertrains."

Reinforcing the changed power structure in the boardroom, Mazda announced on Tuesday that its Executive Vice President Takashi Yamanouchi is slated to become its new president and CEO, and it said two of the three board members sent from Ford Motor Co would leave.

Executive Vice President Philip Spender will remain on the board, while Chief Executive Hisakazu Imaki will become chairman when the personnel changes take place on Nov. 19, Mazda said in a release.