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Ford to issue $2.8B in auto debt for tech investments

Keith Naughton
Bloomberg News

Investors piled into Ford Motor Co.’s first automotive borrowing in almost four years, allowing the company to slash interest rates on a $2.8 billion debt sale as it boosts spending on self-driving cars, mobility services and electrified vehicles.

The automaker sold 10-year and 30-year notes Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Investors put in about $8.7 billion of orders for the bonds, said a person familiar with the matter, letting Ford sell more than the $2 billion it initially anticipated. Ford’s last automotive issue was for $2 billion in January 2013. The company said its auto business had $13.1 billion in debt at the end of September and net cash of $11.2 billion.

Ford has undertaken an expensive effort to transform itself into a mobility company that can take on upstarts such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Google. The cost of that conversion is causing profits to fall this year and next.

The second-largest U.S. carmaker has promised to put 100,000 robot taxis — without steering wheel, gas or brake pedals — on the road in five years. It’s also investing $4.5 billion to convert 40 percent of its lineup to electrified vehicles by 2020 and is offering bike sharing and a commuter van service in San Francisco.

“Ford is taking advantage of favorable market conditions to issue long-term debt to raise capital for general corporate purposes,” Brad Carroll, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “We continue to increase our investments in emerging opportunities, primarily in the areas of electrification, autonomy and mobility.”

Ford is working with cities around the world to come up with transportation solutions that go beyond selling cars to individual drivers and include vehicle sharing, ride hailing and other modes of mobility.