Bloomberg News

Ford Says It Isn’t Searching for Successor to CEO Mulally

December 09, 2011

(Updates with closing share price in final paragraph.)

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. hasn’t begun a search for a successor to Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, a company spokeswoman said, contradicting a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Karen Hampton, the company official, said a story published by the newspaper saying the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has begun a search to replace Mulally, the former Boeing Co. executive who kept the No. 2 U.S. automaker out of bankruptcy, wasn’t accurate.

“The story is false,” Hampton said in an e-mail. “As Bill Ford has consistently said, we will always consider both internal and external candidates for any succession plan, but we do not have a search underway for an external CEO successor.”

The Journal stands “behind the story and our reporting,” Neal Boudette, the paper’s Detroit bureau chief, said in an interview.

The company hasn’t hired a search firm nor has the board’s compensation committee stepped up its activities, said a person familiar with the matter. Mulally, 66, will probably remain through 2013 so it’s too soon to begin a search, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the planning is private.

Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford see Mark Fields, 50, president of the Americas, as the leading internal contender. Mulally also likes Joe Hinrichs, who turns 45 this month, an engineer by training who is now running Ford’s operations in Asia.

“I really like our inside talent,” Bill Ford told reporters in June. “It would be very unusual if we didn’t pick somebody from the inside.”

Avoiding Bankruptcy

Ford has gained consumer consideration because it managed to avoid the bankruptcies that befell its U.S. rivals in 2009. The automaker borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006 before credit markets froze, which gave it the cash it needed to weather the recession and invest in new models.

Mulally revived the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker by boosting quality and fuel economy of Ford models while expanding the lineup with cars such as the Fiesta subcompact. After losing $30.1 billion from 2006 through 2008, Ford earned $9.28 billion the next two years and $6.6 billion in the first nine months of the year.

Ford fell 0.5 percent to $11.05 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 34 percent this year after soaring 68 percent in 2010.

--With assistance from Jan Dahinten in Singapore. Editors: Jamie Butters, Bill Koenig

To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Southfield, Michigan, at knaughton3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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