Ford to name Fields as CEO soon, replacing Mulally: source

Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:45pm EDT
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) will soon name Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields as successor to Chief Executive Alan Mulally, a person familiar with the plans said on Monday.

Mulally, the 68-year-old executive credited with reviving Ford's fortunes since taking its helm in 2006, will step down before the end of the year, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing the company's plans. Fields, 53, was named COO in December 2012 and has been seen as Mulally's successor.

"It's really close," the person said. Bloomberg earlier reported that Ford may make an announcement as early as May 1. Ford's annual meeting in Delaware is scheduled for May 8.

A Ford spokeswoman declined to comment.

"We do take succession planning very seriously," Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said. "We do have succession plans in place for all of our key leadership positions, but for competitive reasons we do not discuss them."

Mulally is far from retiring and has long been exploring other high-profile positions to follow his Ford tenure. There was talk starting last year that he would take the top job at Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote), a position that eventually went to Satya Nadella. In 2012, he discussed a role in the Obama administration, but ultimately committed to two more years at Ford.

Analysts said Fields will inherit a much stronger company than Mulally did, one with a highly profitable North American operation underpinned by the top-selling F-150 large pickup truck; growing share of China auto market, the world's largest; and a nascent recovery in Europe. Since Mulally took over as CEO, Ford's stock price has almost doubled.

Execution will be the name of the game for Mark Fields, whereas recovery and transformation were the biggest challenges Mulally faced on Day One," Gabelli & Co analyst Brian Sponheimer said.   Continued...

Mark Fields, chief operating officer for Ford Motor Company, speaks before unveiling a new 2015 Ford Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition in front of the New York-New York hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Marcus