All the latest news from the world By Bill Vlasic DETROIT: Ford Motor has picked Mark Fields, its chief operating officer, to succeed Alan R. Mulally as the next chief executive of the company, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The selection of Fields would hasten the retirement of Mulally, who […]
By Bill Vlasic
DETROIT: Ford Motor has picked Mark Fields, its chief operating officer, to succeed Alan R. Mulally as the next chief executive of the company, according to a person with knowledge of the move.
The selection of Fields would hasten the retirement of Mulally, who had said that he would stay as chief executive of the nation’s second-largest automaker through the end of this year.
But the transition now appears likely to happen earlier, and could be announced before Ford’s annual shareholders meeting next month.
The promotion of Fields to chief executive has been considered almost a certainty inside Ford since late 2012, when he was elevated to the No. 2 job at the company.
Since then, Fields has assumed many of Mulally’s responsibilities, presiding over the company’s weekly business plan meetings and supervising its global auto operations.
A company spokeswoman declined to confirm Fields’ appointment to the chief executive position, which was first reported Monday by Bloomberg News.
“We don’t have any change from our previous announcement,” said Susan Krusel, the spokeswoman, referring to Mulally’s earlier statements that he would remain on the job through the end of 2014.
Fields declined on Monday to comment on what he called “speculative” news reports about his future.
“As you can see, the reports are speculative, so we are not commenting on them,” he said in an email. “We have a great team, and the most important point right now is for all of us to stay focused on delivering our plan.”
Fields has risen steadily up the executive ranks since joining the company in 1989. Before becoming chief operating officer in December 2012, he spent seven years running Ford’s Americas division, which in recent years has been the company’s major source of profits.
Fields also has significant international experience, having previously headed the company’s European operations and served as president of Mazda, when Ford controlled the Japanese automaker.
Still, he has a tough act to follow in Mulally, who was recruited from Boeing in 2006 just as Ford was spiraling toward financial disaster.
Under Mulally, Ford managed to borrow $23 billion to restructure its operations and survive the steep downturn in auto sales during the recession of 2008. In the process, the company avoided the government bailouts and bankruptcies of its two American rivals, General Motors and Chrysler.
Mulally had been a candidate to become chief executive of Microsoft, but officially took his name out of consideration earlier this year.
Besides taking on a larger internal role as chief operating officer, Fields has also become an increasingly visible leader at the company.
Last week, he gave the opening speech at the media previews for the New York International Auto Show, and was host of a company event at the Empire State Building to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.
He will inherit some big challenges as the next chief executive, including shepherding the introduction later this year of Ford’s first aluminum-body pickup truck.