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Mazda’s CFO To Step Down

May 26, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Mazda Motor Corp.’s chief financial officer, Gary Hexter, one of the architects of the Japanese automaker’s financial rebound, plans to resign, the automaker said Friday.

Hexter, 55, was one of a group of Ford Motor Co. executives sent to Mazda six years ago to help it reverse its falling sales and rising debt. Ford owns 33.4 percent of Japan’s fifth-largest automaker.

The resignation, effective June 23, comes as Mazda reported Friday that profit for the fiscal year ended March 31 dropped by 32 percent. It comes just six months after the company named Mark Fields, 38, as president.

Hexter’s post, as well as his seat on the board of directors, will be filled by Robert Shanks, managing director of corporate and cost planning. Mazda spokesman Hideo Azuma said that Ford had recalled Hexter, but declined further comment.

Before coming to Mazda in February 1994, the Australian-born executive was director of international automotive operations at Ford’s headquarters in Detroit.

Hexter, known as 7-11 for his long work hours, was instrumental in the company’s effort to cut costs and repay debt. The company posted a profit in the fiscal year ended March 1998 for the first time in 6 years.

The company was hurt this year by the dollar’s fall against the yen and sales declines in the United States and Europe.

The company’s group net profit fell 32 percent in fiscal 1999 to 26.16 billion yen, or $244.5 million, compared with 38.71 billion yen a year earlier.

Revenue rose to 2.16 trillion yen, or $20.2 billion, from 2.06 trillion yen a year ago.

A weak dollar translates into fewer yen when the company repatriates dollar-based profits earned overseas. Mazda said the dollar’s 16-yen decline during the year to 112 yen shaved 74.7 billion from the company’s profit.

The company said profit will likely fall another 52 percent in the current year to 12.5 billion yen as the dollar falls to 109 yen.

Mazda is especially vulnerable to changes in currency values because it most of its cars are built and exported from Japan.

Shanks said Mazda will decide within a year whether to build cars in Europe with Ford to limit the impact of currency fluctuations.

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