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Ford declines comment on Europe CEO's reported departure

Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell speaks to Reuters during an interview in Cologne May 12, 2014. Picture taken on May 12, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. carmaker Ford (F.N) declined comment on Thursday on a report saying the head of its loss-making European operations will be replaced by a candidate from within the company.

Swiss magazine Bilanz said Ford chief executive Mark Fields was set to present the automaker's new European chief of staff at the company's regional headquarters in Cologne, Germany, but did not say when this would happen or name the person.

The incumbent, Stephen Odell, who has been Ford's European CEO since 2008, will be moved to a new role within the U.S. carmaker, Bilanz said.

Ford of Europe spokesman John Gardiner told Reuters: "We don't comment on speculation."

Ford is bracing for a $1.2 billion loss in Europe this year and no longer expects to return its regional business to profit in 2015, after its third-quarter European loss widened to $439 million from $182 million a year earlier.

The Detroit-based carmaker has not made money in the region since 2010.

Ford's European sales rose 12 percent in September to nearly 130,000 vehicles and its market share has bounced back during the first three quarters of 2014, but that was partly because Ford slashed prices more than rivals, analysts said.

While struggling in Europe and South America, the U.S. manufacturer is profitable in Asia and North America. Excluding one-time items, Ford reported higher-than-expected third-quarter earnings of 24 cents per share, reflecting North American operating results and lower tax rates.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Crispian Balmer)