UPDATE 3-Mulally to hand over Ford CEO job earlier than expected
* Mulally to leave board as well
* COO job to disappear, Hinrichs remains head of Americas
* Fields had been widely expected to succeed Mulally
* Fields vows to stick to 'One Ford' plan (Adds Mulally comments, updates stock action)
By Ben Klayman
DEARBORN, Mich., May 1 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co on Thursday made official what investors and analysts had been waiting for - Chief Executive Alan Mulally this summer will pass the baton of leadership to Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields, six months earlier than expected.
The 68-year-old Mulally is credited with transforming the No. 2 U.S. automaker from a money-loser to a company that expects to realize a pretax profit of up to $8 billion this year after joining in 2006 from Boeing Co.
Mulally, who was in the running for the top job at Microsoft Corp late last year, did not say what was next for him. Ford's CEO change takes effect on July 1.
The ascension of 53-year-old Fields as the next CEO, which the company's board approved on Wednesday, was expected, but the timing had been unclear. Mulally said the transition was moved up from year-end because he felt the team and Fields were ready. Continued...