Mulally Staying at Ford, Not Leaving for Microsoft – ABC News

Posted: Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Alan Mulally is staying at Ford.

The CEO, who was rumored to be in the running to become Microsoft’s next leader, told The Associated Press Tuesday that he won’t leave the Dearborn, Mich., automaker before the end of 2014.

“I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford,” Mulally said in an interview.

When asked if this should end investor concern about his departure, Mulally said, “You don’t have to worry about me leaving.” Mulally wouldn’t say if he had talked to Microsoft about becoming CEO. But he said the speculation was a distraction for Ford.

Mulally is credited with returning Ford Motor Co. to profitability and changing the company’s culture, putting an end to widespread executive infighting. Mulally said he will stick with the plan to stay at Ford through at least the end of 2014. When Ford announced that plan in November 2012, it also promoted Mark Fields to chief operating officer, making him the likely successor to Mulally.

Over the last few months, there have been numerous reports that Mulally was on the short list of candidates to replace Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft announced in August that Ballmer plans to step down as CEO.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, said in an email that Mulally’s decision was a negative for Microsoft because he was the front-runner for the CEO job. But Microsoft wouldn’t say Tuesday if Mulally’s announcement came as a surprise.

“Out of respect for the process and the potential candidates, we don’t comment on individual names,” a Microsoft spokesman told the AP.

Ford shares rose 21 cents to $15.59 in after-hours trading. Microsoft shares fell 47 cents to $36.94.

Mulally’s withdrawal from Microsoft’s CEO derby further shrinks the pool of company outsiders who have been touted as Ballmer’s potential successor.

Steve Mollenkopf, the chief operating officer of smartphone chip maker Qualcomm Inc., was identified as a top candidate in a Bloomberg News report last month. But Qualcomm quickly squelched the speculation by announcing plans to promote Mollenkopf to CEO in March.

With Mulally out of the running, some of Ballmer’s top lieutenants might have a better chance of replacing their boss. The list of internal candidates includes Satya Nadella, who oversees the Microsoft’s lucrative business of selling computer servers and online services to other companies and government agencies, and Tony Bates, who joined Microsoft in 2011 when the company paid $8.5 billion for video calling service Skype.

Microsoft’s pending acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone business also has spurred talk that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will replace Ballmer. Elop left Microsoft in 2010 to join Nokia, a mobile phone pioneer that continued to lose market share to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Android devices under Elop’s leadership.

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