January 12, 2001 [WSJ.com]

Ford Denies Teaming Up With Yamaha To Mfg Boat Motors

Dow Jones Newswires

   By Todd Zaun

TOKYO -- Ford Motor Co. (F) has strongly denied it has agreed to team up with Yamaha Motor Co. (J.YMM or 7272) in North America to manufacture and sell boat motors, contradicting a public announcement by Yamaha's president that such a deal had been struck.

In a potentially embarrassing blow to Yamaha President Takehiko Hasegawa, who announced a deal Wednesday, a Ford official said the U.S. auto company "has no agreement to form an alliance of any kind with Yamaha."

Ford didn't deny it was in talks with Yamaha, but "it is pure speculation to say that such talks result in an agreement," said Ford Japan spokesman Ted Takei.

Hasegawa told reporters Wednesday the two companies agreed to establish a joint-venture company to make and sell boat engines. The venture would make engines for midsize recreational boats, and sell them mostly in the U.S., a Yamaha spokesman said.

Despite the denial from Ford, Yamaha spokesman Toshio Furusawa insisted Friday that Hasegawa and a "top executive" from Ford had a verbal agreement to form an alliance, although many of the details of the deal have yet to be worked out. He declined to name the Ford executive.

Yamaha, Japan's top maker of boat engines, already has four plants in the U.S., where it manufacturers golf carts, boats, and recreational water vehicles.