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Firestone joins Ford Motor Company, Mazda in bankruptcy deal

Firestone Automotive, the company that owns and operates the Ford Motor Co., has agreed to sell all of its business, including auto repair and automotive accessories, to a private-equity firm, a bankruptcy filing filed Thursday shows.

The deal was first reported by Reuters.

Firestone is not buying any assets.

Ford, which filed for bankruptcy protection in March, has been in talks with several private-sector buyers, including the private-label carmaker’s owner, GM, and a Japanese automaker, Mitsubishi Motors.

Ford’s assets include a former Ford Performance plant and its factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Ford also is seeking to sell its auto parts division, which is owned by General Motors Co., and is seeking $1.3 billion in debtor-in-possession financing from the bankruptcy.

Ford will also sell its vehicle-assembly business, which includes the Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid.

The company will also reduce its workforce, with layoffs of 200 workers, as well as closing about 80 jobs, the filing said.

Firestone Automobile will keep its headquarters in Sterling, Michigan, the bankruptcy filing said, and that company will retain a minority stake in the company.

Ford has said it would sell off its automotive assets.

The bankruptcy filing is the first for Firestone since the company was purchased by General Motor Co. in 2013.

The deal was the first of several that GM made in the past few years as it sought to shed its debt burden.

The move by Ford comes amid a sharp decline in sales of the Ford Focus and Fusion, which were among the best-selling models last year.

The automaker’s sales are falling again, with the Ford F-Series and Fusion SUVs down 17 percent last year and down 5 percent in the second quarter.

The company said Thursday that it would be “fully supportive” of GM in its efforts to get the Fusion back on track.