Report: Ford to name Fields CEO Mulally’s successor – USA TODAY
Ford Motor within the next month will make it official that heir-apparent Mark Fields succeed retiring Alan Mulally as CEO, according to multiple reports on Monday.
The announcement will come by May 1, according to Bloomberg News, citing two unnamed sources. CNBC, meanwhile, reported that the switch would be announced within a month and pointed out that the automaker’s annual meeting is set for May 8 in Delaware.
In December 2012, the Ford board, as part of a succession plan, created the No. 2 position of chief operating officer and named Fields, 53, to it, making him the presumed heir. Mulally, meanwhile, said and has continued to say, that he would retire by the end of 2014.
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Ford officials refused to confirm the reports that an announcement is imminent.
“There is no change from our previous announcements and we do not comment on speculation. We take succession planning very seriously, and we have succession plans in place for each of our key leadership positions. For competitive reasons, we do not discuss our succession plans externally. If something were to change, we would let everyone know,” spokeswoman Susan Krusel said in a statement.
Unlike the surprisingly quick announcement and promotion of Mary Barra to CEO of General Motors, Fields has been running the daily operations at Ford for 15 months and taken Mulally’s spot in key planning meetings in what is viewed as a thorough and lengthy transition.
Mulally, meanwhile, has said he is concentrating on longer-term strategy and he has already taken a lower profile, such as, for example skipping public appearances at last week’s press preview of the New York Auto Show where the redone 2015 Ford Mustang and the 50th anniversary of the Mustang were featured.
Fields, 53, is credited with restructuring operations in North America prior to his promotion in 2012 to the COO.
At the time of Fields’ promotion, Mulally, 68, confirmed plans to remain with the automaker through the end of this year, but the board of directors is said to be open to an earlier date.
The board next meets ahead of the May 8 shareholder meeting when they are up for re-election to their positions.
The timing of Mulally’s retirement became an issue last year when he was on a list of candidates to become the next CEO of Microsoft. The publicity became a distraction at Ford and there were concerns it diverted attention from the big product push Ford has this year.
One offshoot of the speculation is the market remained stable in a signal it is not jittery about the transition from Mulally to Fields.
Mulally left Boeing in 2006 to take over as CEO of Ford. He is credited with uniting a fractious leadership, creating a global product development strategy and leading the automaker through the 2008 financial crisis with savvy decisions that made it possible to avoid filing for bankruptcy in 2009 and avoid using government assistance.