- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co.’s financial arm said Wednesday it would offer new bonds that can take advantage of a Federal Reserve program designed to make it easier for companies to extend credit to consumers.

Ford Motor Credit said investors can obtain funds from the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, to purchase the securities. The bonds are backed by the company’s loans to car buyers and dealerships.

TALF will lend money to investors so they can buy securities that fund consumer loans, thereby reducing the investors’ risk. The market for such asset-backed securities froze up last year after mortgage defaults started rising.

Ford Motor Credit is offering the asset-backed securities in four tranches totaling $2.95 billion.

“The goal is to improve liquidity in the asset-backed securities market and increase consumer lending,” said Ford Motor Credit spokeswoman Margaret Mellott. “We think our program will help do that.”

Fitch Ratings said it would assign a “AAA” rating to Ford Motor Credit’s four groups of securities, and give them a “stable” outlook. The bonds must have that rating in order to be part of the TALF program.

Fitch also said would assign a “AAA” rating and “stable” outlook to three tranches of Nissan bonds totaling $1 billion. A fourth, short-term tranche totaling $357 million was given a top rating of “F1+.” Nissan North America officials would not confirm the bond issuance Wednesday.

Ford Motor Credit said the deadline to apply for the first TALF issuance is Thursday, and that it would participate in future TALF programs _ which occur monthly _ at the company’s discretion.

The financial arms of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. received funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, after getting bank holding company status from the Treasury Department. GMAC Financial received $5 billion in December, while Chrysler Financial received $1.5 billion in January. Earlier this week, Chrysler Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said the company would seek additional TARP funds for its financial arm.

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