DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Credit announced it is consolidating and centralizing most of its originations and servicing operations in the United States to help reduce costs and improve process efficiencies. Moreover, the company said it is making salaried personnel reductions, which cover about 2,000 positions in the U.S. and Canada.

These recent announcements are designed to continue the company's global business transformation that executives said has been ongoing for more than a decade.

"We have a history of managing change effectively, and I'm confident the course we are on will be equally successful," said Mike Bannister, chairman and chief executive officer.

Ford Motor Credit said it will consolidate the remaining 59 U.S. branches into six existing service centers, creating new business centers that will manage originations, dealer credit and wholesale operations, in addition to other functions.

Sales employees who work directly with dealers will remain in local markets to maintain and enhance their strong dealer connections, executives added.

"Many of the same Ford Motor Credit salespeople who call on our dealers today will continue to do so going forward," said A.J. Wagner, president of Ford Motor Credit, North America. "Our salespeople have a unique understanding of our dealers' market and business issues and are in the best position to provide them with practical solutions to support their business."

The company said it expects completion of the branch consolidation by the end of 2007. Executives also noted that a similar structure is being considered for Ford Motor Credit's operations in Canada, which currently has seven branches and one service center.

"As a company with strong business fundamentals, we believe this new structure will further strengthen our operational effectiveness," said Bannister. "Our strong collections processes will continue while we enhance our originations of automotive financing contracts. The North American restructuring also will provide us with the flexibility and scale necessary to adapt to any changes in business conditions."

In the last decade, Ford Motor Credit said it has restructured operations in Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, North America and the U.K. in order to reduce costs and improve process efficiencies. Since 2003, Ford Motor Credit said it has closed nearly 110 branches in the U.S. and Canada.

Personnel reductions will be achieved through attrition, early retirements, voluntary separations and, if necessary, involuntary separations, according to executives. Currently, about 8,600 employees work in Ford Motor Credit offices in the U.S. and Canada. The region accounts for 75 percent of the company's global business, executives pointed out. As of June 30, 2006, the company's global managed receivables were $151 billion.

Wagner's Retirement from Ford Credit

In other news, Ford Motor announced that A.J. Wagner, president of Ford Motor Credit, North America and a vice president of Ford, has elected to retire after a 33-year career with the company. His retirement will go into effect Jan. 1, 2007.

Since October 2003, executives said Wagner has led the sales, marketing, credit and brand functions for Ford Motor Credit's business in the U.S. and Canada.

"A.J's outstanding dealer relations and business skills have made a major contribution to our credit organization in North America," said Bill Ford, executive chairman for Ford. "He is an excellent sales leader who has used his considerable energy to support our product sales and our profitable financial operations. He also has been a strong advocate for our dealers and for the value that Ford Motor Co. provides to them."

Wagner joined the company in 1973 and held numerous positions throughout the Ford Motor Credit organization in leasing, marketing, dealer credit, operations services, field operations and strategic planning, according to executives.

Wagner served as executive vice president of Ford Credit North America, handling the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands, and also served as senior vice president of the Western U.S., executives highlighted.