Ford Motor Co. (F) has announced that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President Alan Mulally is retiring from the company on Jul 1, 2014 and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mark Fields will take over his responsibilities. Fields will also be a part of the board of directors.
While Ford’s plan to replace Mulally with Fields has been in circulation, it was believed that the succession will take place by the end of the year as Mulally had previously said that he plans to stay with the automaker till 2014-end. However, the replacement is taking place sooner than expected as both the outgoing CEO and the Executive Chairman Bill Ford believe that the new leadership team is ready for the transition.
68-year old Mulally has been Ford’s president and CEO since Sep 5, 2006. He helped the automaker counter recessionary impacts, avoid bankruptcy, develop a strong product portfolio and eventually generate 19 consecutive quarters of profitability. Prior to Ford, Mulally was part of The Boeing Company (BA).
Toward the end of last year, rumors surfaced that he would become the next CEO of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) following the departure of Steve Ballmer. However, these rumors were put to rest earlier this year, when Satya Nadella was named the successor.
53-year old Fields has been a part of Ford for 25 years and was appointed COO in Dec 2012. He is responsible for the global business operations of the company besides handling its weekly business plan review. He also leads skill teams for product development, manufacturing, purchasing, and marketing, sales and service.
Before becoming COO, Fields was the executive vice president and then president of The Americas business segment of Ford. He has been responsible for making the North American business of the automaker profitable.
Fields, along with Mulally, protected the company from going bankrupt like General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC during the recession. Before becoming Ford’s COO he also turned Japanese automaker Mazda, which was controlled by Ford at that time, profitable. He is also responsible for the relaunch of Ford’s independent operations in Argentina and for turning around the European business of the company.
Ford currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).