Ford dynasty closes in on the top job

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NEW YORK - Detroit's Ford family, which controls 40 per cent of the voting shares of the world's second-largest car company, has promoted one of its own to chair the car maker's all-powerful finance committee, writes Larry Black.

William Clay Ford Jr, 37, will succeed his father as head of the committee, putting a second great- grandson of Heny Ford into the running as a future chief executive of the firm. Edsel Ford II, his 45- year-old cousin, has been president of the Ford Motor Credit subsidiary since 1991.

Between them, William and William Jr control 26 per cent of the family 40 per cent stake, giving the younger cousin an edge in any succession battle.

Alexander Trotman, 61, who became chief executive of Ford only last year, has the full support of shareholders. The last Ford to run the company, Edsel's father, Henry Ford II, insisted on going outside the family for his successor 15 years ago.

Some analysts insist William Jr's promotion - which obliges him to resign his operations job at Ford's truck development division - in effect takes him out of the running for the top job.