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Is Ford now in race to join with Nissan?

SHARE Is Ford now in race to join with Nissan?

DEARBORN, Mich. — Shares of Ford Motor Co. surged more than 4 percent Wednesday, following a report that Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Ford had approached Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn about joining the global alliance.

The report in The Wall Street Journal cited "a person well-positioned to know." It was part of a commentary in the paper's opinion section by Paul Ingrassia, vice president for news strategy of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and Joseph B. White, the paper's Detroit bureau chief.

Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said Wednesday that the company would not comment on what he called "speculation."

Nissan spokesman Fred Standish said he was not aware of any such discussion between Bill Ford and Ghosn.

Ford's rival, General Motors Corp., currently is in talks with Nissan Motor Co., of Japan, and Renault SA, of France, about joining their global alliance. The idea to join the alliance came from billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who holds a 9.9 percent stake in GM.

The report in the Journal said Bill Ford recently called Ghosn "with a simple message: If you don't do the deal with GM for any reason, come talk to me."

Ghosn is widely admired in the auto industry as a turnaround specialist, and both Ford and GM are in the middle of ambitious restructuring efforts.

Shares of Ford soared 34 cents, or 4.6 percent, to close at $7.76 Wednesday.

After losing $254 million in the second quarter, Ford said in July that it would have to accelerate the turnaround plan it launched in January. Last week, the company announced that it would slash fourth-quarter production by 21 percent, temporarily shutting down 10 assembly plants. It said high gas prices are pushing consumers away from the high-margin pickups and SUVs that it has long relied on.