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Ford idling 14 plants, losing 30,000 staff

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Co. unveiled a radical makeover Monday, with plans to close 14 factories and lay off as many as 30,000 people.

Salary-related costs are being cut 10 percent in North America with the previously announced reduction of the equivalent of 4,000 salaried positions by the end of the first quarter, Ford said in a statement.

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In addition to the lay-offs and factory closures, the company's officer ranks are being reduced 12 percent by March.

Further, Ford is cutting net material costs by at least $6 billion by 2010, will stop issuing earnings guidance and build a "low-cost" factory.

Other cost-cutting steps include cutting the number of its worldwide suppliers from 2,500 to about 800.

Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford characterized the moves as "painful sacrifices" needed to preserve Ford's heritage in a "crowded and fragmented" North American market.

Ford posted a better-than-expected profit as its core North American automobile operations narrowed losses on improved pricing. Ford said fourth-quarter net income rose to $124 million, or 8 cents a share, from a year-ago profit of $104 million, or 6 cents a share.

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