Evelyn Davis thinks Tata sells cars to “low outcasts”
Shareholder activist and “Queen of the Corporate Jungle” Evelyn Davis is not happy about Ford Motor’s planned sale of British brands Jaguar and Land Rover to Indian automaker Tata Motors. And when Evelyn Davis is not happy about something, she makes sure people know it.
At the annual Ford shareholders meeting on Thursday, Davis, who grills CEOs at hundreds of annual shareholder meetings, called the sale “outrageous” and urged shareholders to vote against the entire board except Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr.
”Tata sells cars that are $2,500 to the lowest of the low outcasts of India,” Davis said, adding that Jaguar represented elegance and exclusivity. “How could the board sell us out to an outfit like that who sell to people like that.”
Ford has agreed to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata in $2.3 billion deal that gives Tata a line-up ranging from the world’s cheapest car to some of its more expensive.
Davis also urged Ford to dump Chief Executive Alan Mulally, hired from Boeing in 2006, because he was “not a car guy.” She urged Bill Ford Jr, who had stepped down from that position to hire Mulally, to retake the CEO position.
“I think you should go back to Boeing,” she told Mulally.
Bill Ford defended Mulally’s record as CEO, saying that his management has moved the turnaround quicker “than anyone thought he could.”
After a repeated exchange with Bill Ford Jr., and requests for details on the company’s hedging practices for currency rates and commodity costs, and questions on the amount of legal fees it has to pay each year, Davis said: “Remember one more thing, a prime minister only serves at the pleasure of the king, and I want the king back,” she said.
“If you are referring to me, thank you, but …,” Ford said. (The rest of his response was drowned out by Davis)
“I want to dump all of the directors except you because you are my king, and you delivered me my Jaguar personally.”
“I paid a regular price by the way, for those who didn’t know that.”
Well, who knew Prime Minister Davis owned a Jaguar? Stay tuned for another set of interesting Davis comments — sure to come at GM’s annual meeting scheduled for June.