Ford Motor Co. (F) Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said he intends to stay as head of the second-biggest U.S. carmaker through next year, following reports that Microsoft (MSFT) Corp. may seek to recruit him.
“I plan to continue to serve as Ford’s president and CEO until at least the end of 2014,” to remain “absolutely laser focused” on earnings growth, Mulally wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg News today. “I love serving Ford and will continue serving Ford,” Mulally said in an interview from Berlin with Anna Edwards on Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown.”
Mulally, 68, has been talked about as a possible interim CEO at Microsoft, technology-news website AllThingsD reported Sept. 2. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 57, said on Aug. 23 that he plans to step down in the next 12 months, kicking off a debate about his possible successor at the U.S. software maker.
Speculation on Ballmer’s potential replacement has focused on Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) CEO Stephen Elop following the Finnish manufacturer’s $7.2 billion agreement this month to sell its mobile-phone unit to Microsoft. Elop is a former executive at Microsoft, based in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, and will return to the U.S. company following the deal.
Mark Martin, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment.
Ford shares slipped 1.7 percent to $17 at the close in New York. Microsoft slid 0.3 percent to $31.15.
Mulally, who previously ran Boeing Co. (BA)’s commercial-aircraft unit, joined Ford in September 2006 and led the automaker through the global credit crunch following the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapse without tapping government money. He’s in Berlin at the IFA technology show to present the S-Max sport-utility vehicle prototype that features new connectivity technologies including voice-control smartphone applications and a heart-rate monitoring seat.
Ford has a partnership with Microsoft to develop the auto manufacturer’s Sync system that integrates mobile devices into the car and connects the vehicle to the Internet. Mulally has been sharing advice with Ballmer on business transformation, AllThingsD reported on July 9.
Mulally is the driving force behind the One Ford strategy to use a limited number of vehicle platforms globally to save costs. He has also balanced Ford’s vehicle lineup with more small cars and a growing array of hybrid models to go along with big F-Series pick-ups, the top-selling vehicle line in the U.S. for 36 years. His term has included eliminating jobs, reducing labor costs and selling the European luxury brands Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo.
To avoid bankruptcy, Ford borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006. The automaker put up all major assets, including its blue oval logo, as collateral. Ford recovered control of the assets in May 2012.
Ford is still working to end losses in Europe that are forecast to amount to $1.8 billion this year. The Dearborn, Michigan-based carmaker is closing three plants in Europe by the end of 2014 in an effort to break even in 2015.
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