Ford Motor Co. has completed the sale of nearly 20% of its interest in Associates First Capital Corp., raising nearly $1.9 billion in one of the largest initial public offerings of stock ever in the United States.

The offering came less than two months after Associates, a diversified specialty lender, filed a registration statement for the shares. While a number of consumer and specialty finance stocks took a beating, Associates appears to have weathered the market turbulence during that period.

After initially targeting a price range of between $25 and $28 a share, the underwriters, led by Goldman, Sachs & Co., raised the initial offering price to $29 a share.

Since then, the shares have risen steadily, gaining nearly 20% by Thursday, when the shares were trading at $34.50.

Of the 67 million new shares sold in the offering, 85% - or nearly 57 million - were sold in the United States. The remaining 10 million shares were sold overseas. Ford will continue to own 80.7% of the company and will have a 95.1% voting interest.

Analysts following the specialty finance industry say the company likely will use the funds raised for growth. Last month, Associates agreed to pay $157 million in cash to buy the manufactured housing and recreational vehicle financing division of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.

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