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Ford pays millions to former luxury car chief

DETROIT, Aug 13 Reuters is reporting that Ford Motor Co. will pay Wolfgang Reitzle, who quit as head of its luxury car division in April, 2 million euros for his agreement to serve as a consultant to company through April 2004.

Terms of the severance agreement, under which Reitzle is sworn to strict secrecy about any trade secrets or confidential Ford information, were disclosed late on Monday in a quarterly filing the company made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Reitzle, a former BMW executive and close ally of Ford's former chief executive, Jacques Nasser, stepped down after what industry insiders described as an unsuccessful power play and bid to be named vice chairman for global product development at Ford.

He had headed the Premier Automotive Group, a key Ford unit that designs and markets its Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin brands and is targeted to account for one-third of Ford's earnings by mid-decade.

Apart from keeping tight-lipped about any insider information he gathered about Ford, Reitlze agreed not to go to work for a competitor or "engage in any conduct that is inimical to the best interests of the company" for at least two years.

Reitzle left Ford to become chief executive of German industrial gas and engineering group Linde AG (Frankfurt:LING.F - News). He had joined Ford in 1999 after leaving BMW.

At current exchange rates, his 2 million euro salary for two years of consultancy means he will be paid slightly more than Ford Vice Chairman Carl Reichardt, who is responsible for the financial operations of the company and its credit, leasing and rental operations.

Reichardt, a high-powered former chairman and chief executive of Wells Fargo & Co. who was hired after Nasser's ouster last October, has an annual base salary of $900,000, according to Ford's quarterly 10-Q filing.

Ford, which lost $5.45 billion last year, is struggling to implement a turnaround plan. Its filing showed, nonetheless, that it had granted restricted stock worth one year's pay to most of the company's executive officers who agreed not to work for a competitor for two years after leaving Ford. The stock was issued on June 1.