Insiders: Ford planning to sell Mazda stake (Updated)

Update: Mazda issued a statement early Saturday seemingly confirming Friday's rumors. "Nothing has been decided," Mazda said in a statement received by the Associated Press. "Any important decision will be disclosed."

Original Story: Ford is in the process of finding potential buyers for its 33.4 percent stake in Mazda, sources told Reuters late Friday. Ford -- often viewed as the parent company of Mazda despite owning only a third of the company -- recently sold its Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Land Rover brands in an effort to raise capital. Ford's stake in Mazda is said to be worth around $1.36 billion -- money the struggling automaker could use during this difficult time.

Earlier, Japan's NHK reported the automaker was considering selling at least a 20 percent stake in the company, but it appears a complete sale of all 33.4 percent is on the table. The debt-laden company is in talks with several Japanese firms about the sale.

Many of Ford's products are tightly linked with Mazda's -- the companies share platforms for a number of vehicles, and development on a number of projects has been joint. Another Ford subsidiary possibly for sale, Volvo, also shares platforms with Mazda and Ford, making de-integration of next-generation vehicles projects a challenge.

Ford shares fell to a 26-year low of $2.00 on Friday. Ford's declining auto sales, coupled with an extremely unstable financial market, are to blame. Like GM, Ford has ruled out a bankruptcy filing, said CEO Alan Mulally.