Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally is staying put through at least the end of this year, the executive told The Associated Press in an interview. The move ends one hurdle for a no-drama CEO transition at the second-largest U.S. automaker.
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Mulally told the news service that he’s not leaving Ford for Microsoft and wanted to end such speculation. He wouldn’t tell AP if had talked to Microsoft, which is searching for a successor to CEO Steve Ballmer. Mulally told AP such speculation had been a distraction for Ford.
“I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford,” Mulally said in the AP interview.
Mulally, 68, has been at Ford since September 2006. On his watch Ford revamped its product lineup with such models as the updated Ford Fusion sedan, returning the automaker to profitability after record losses. The last big task for Mulally was for a smooth handoff to a successor. But with numerous news stories that Mulally was in the running to succeed Ballmer, there was a lot of attention being paid to Mulally’s future.
Ford has had management succession controversies in the past, such as Henry Ford II firing Lee Iacocca in the 1970s and Chairman Bill Ford Jr. deposing CEO Jacques Nasser in 2001. Mulally’s accomplishments at Ford included cultural change to cut down on back biting and intrigue. A smooth transition from Mulally to a successor would be a sign that Ford was, indeed, a changed company.
Ford announced in November 2012 that Mark Fields was being elevated to chief operating officer from president of the Americas, making him the leading candidate to succeed Mulally. It was that announcement where Ford first said Mulally would serve through the end of 2014.
The Mulally-to-Microsoft storyline has now come to an end. Ford’s CEO handoff hasn’t yet happened. There’s another chapter to be written on how smooth the handoff is.