(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Thursday it was drawing down $15.4 billion from two existing credit lines and suspending dividend payments as it bolsters its reserves to ride out damage to its business from the coronavirus outbreak.
The United States second biggest automaker also abandoned its 2020 financial forecasts and said the cash would be used to deal with a squeeze on capital caused by shutdowns in production due to the fast-spreading virus.
Ford, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), (FCAU.N) have shut down their U.S. plants, as well as factories in Canada and Mexico, to prevent the spread of the disease among roughly 150,000 factory employees.
Comparing the current situation to the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis, Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett said the company was putting in place safeguards to protect its business, workforce, customers and dealers.
All three Detroit automakers have seen U.S. employees test positive for COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the virus.
The epidemic has already hit other automakers and more are expected to slash their 2020 forecasts. Ford gets more than 35% of its sales from outside the United States.
Reporting by Rachit Vats in Bengaluru and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Patrick Graham