Ford moves CFO to the driver's seat in Argentina

Ford moves CFO to the driver's seat in Argentina

People Coronavirus Argentina

Ford Motor Company said it named Martín Galdeano, its CFO in parts of South America, to lead the carmaker's operations in Argentina, where production, sales and exports have tumbled during an economic lockdown.

Galdeano, 43, will replace Gabriel López, who will retire on July 1 after nearly four decades with the company, Ford said in a statement.

Galdeano has worked at Ford for 22 years, most recently as CFO of operations in Argentina and other parts of South America.

He will face immediate challenges at the helm. The automotive sector was hit hard by the economic lockdown in Argentina, imposed March 20 to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown, which has been loosened in parts of the country, led to a plunge in production as manufacturers had to shut plants, including Ford.

Indeed, no vehicles were made at all in April, down from 30,294 units in the same month last year, according to the industry group Association of Auto Manufacturers.

The shutdown, which is expected to continue through June and possibly for longer, cut production by 38% in the first four months of this year compared with the same period of 2019. Over the same period, exports by the industry fell 37% and sales by 35%, the association said.

Ford put its plant in the province of Buenos Aires back into operation in mid-May after a 60-day closure, but sales are not expected to rebound as the economy suffers from the lockdown. According to a survey published by the central bank at the start of May, many economists expect the economy to shrink 7% this year, far more than a previously expected decline of 1% and the worst since a 10.9% contraction in 2002.

Ford Argentina, however, exports 70% of its production, meaning that it may be able to capitalize on a weakening in the peso against the dollar as an advantage against competitors in markets with stronger currencies. The central bank survey shows that the peso likely will depreciate to ARS85.4 to the dollar in December — from a current ARS70.72 — and then slump to ARS120 in December 2021.