Ford Motor Co. will spin off its 80.7% interest in Associates First Capital Corp., a consumer and commercial finance company, to Ford common and class B shareholders.

Associates is the country's largest originator and servicer of subprime loans. Associates originated $3.1 billion in B and C loans in the first half and had a servicing portfolio of $15.8 billion on June 30.

The spinoff involves 279.5 million shares, worth about $17.5 billion. Ford purchased Associates in 1989 for $3.35 billion; a 19.3% interest was sold in an initial public offering in May 1996.

The spinoff will be completed within a few months. Ford first must receive a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service that the spinoff would be a tax-free transaction for Ford and its shareholders.

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