Ford is asking its top executives to sign a strict non-compete agreement in order to ensure that there is no exodus to rivals, according to a report carried by The Detroit News.

The report says that in return for pledging loyalty, the execs are receiving stock options.

The Detroit News, citing as source ‘Ford insiders’, says that Ford has approached 52 top corporate officers and that many have signed up already. The report adds that those who sign are barred from defecting to another major automaker for two years.

Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari told The Detroit News, “It’s a competitive environment and we are looking to protect our human resources and proprietary information”.

The Detroit News report notes that the move by Ford, which is not unprecedented, illustrates the prevalence of the ‘free-agent’ culture in Detroit – a big change from thirty years or more ago when it was rare for top execs to join a rival.

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