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Ford Europe chief and global marketing head to switch jobs

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

By Paul Ingrassia

LONDON (Reuters) - Two of Ford Motor Co's (F.N) top executives will switch positions, the U.S. carmaker said on Friday, as new boss Mark Fields looks to develop senior managers.

Jim Farley, global head of marketing, sales and services, will swap jobs with Stephen Odell, Ford's regional chief for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), effective Jan. 1.

The moves will see Farley, 52, get his first senior operating role at the company and bring his seven years of experience as marketing chief to Ford's EMEA operations, which have been losing money for years in an austerity-scarred market.

Europe is struggling to emerge from its worst auto market downturn in two decades and Ford has not made money in the region since 2010.

Meanwhile, 34-year Ford veteran Odell, 59, will move to company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

The appointments come at the behest of Fields, who took over from Alan Mulally as Ford's president and chief executive earlier this year.

Reuters earlier reported Ford was planning the reshuffle.

"The idea here is to give a ‘fresh eyes’ approach both to EMEA and global marketing, without tearing up everything,” a senior Ford official said.

Farley and Odell have headed up two businesses where Ford has struggled to turn things around: the Lincoln luxury brand and its operations in Europe.

As well as his sales and marketing role, Farley has until recently been instrumental in leading the transformation of Ford's Lincoln brand, which at one time along with General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cadillac marque, dominated luxury auto sales in the United States.

In the past two decades, German luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have taken the lead in American luxury car sales, along with Toyota's Lexus.

Ford now links Lincoln’s success to China, where the company opened its first dealerships this week and plans to have 60 stores in 50 Chinese cities by 2016. Ford plans to overhaul Lincoln with an investment of $5 billion over the next five years, sources told Reuters last month.

Ford has said it wants to triple Lincoln’s worldwide sales to 300,000 vehicles by 2020.

Last month's results showed that Ford continued to lose money in Europe and in South America, while being profitable in Asia as well as North America.

The loss in Europe widened to $439 million from $182 million a year earlier, mainly due to weakness in Russia.

In a bid to regain traction, Ford is introducing 25 new models in Europe over the next five years, launching higher-end versions of its mass-market models.

Trade publication Automotive News was first to report the reshuffle.

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall; Writing by Edward Taylor,; Editing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)