How Much Longer Can the Ford Family Reign?

Judging from the look of Detroit News headlines this week, it sounds like it was a good week for the Ford family. However, a close read of reporter David Shepardson’s article illustrates that although the family is safe for now, the growing popularity of a plan that would end their control of the automaker is keeping the Fords from resting too easy.

At Ford’s (NYSE:F) 58th annual meeting, Detroit News reported that the highest number of votes ever were cast in support of a plan that would “end the Ford family’s special class of voting stock that gives it control of the company.” 33.4 percent of shareholders backed the proposal, the new highest number surpassing the previous highest tally in 2011 at 31.2 percent. This new ceiling, though high, is up against the 40 percent of voting shares owned by the Fords, afforded to them through their special class of stock that gives them effective control of the company.

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Unsurprisingly, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. defended the family’s ownership after the meeting and told Detroit News reporters, “Having the family vote and ownership position really allowed the company to stay focused, not get distracted and to survive and ultimately thrive.” Luckily, he is not biased.

Also noted by Ford at the company’s third shortest meeting was the naming of a new independent director to its board on Wednesday. Ellen R. Marram was named to the position that was previously held by Irvine O. Hockaday Jr., 76, for over 25 years.

Here’s how shares of Ford finished trading this week:

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