Ford Motor Co. (F) Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally remains committed to the company and its future regardless of reports that he might leave for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), said Mark Fields, the automaker’s No. 2 executive.
“There’s been no change to what we announced in November,” Fields, chief operating officer since December, told reporters today at a charity fundraising event in Detroit. Mulally is “absolutely focused on the business, particularly on setting a long-range strategy for the company. He’s very engaged.”
Mulally, 68, has been mentioned as a candidate to become the next CEO of Microsoft Corp. by technology-news website AllThingsD and Reuters. Mulally told Bloomberg News on Sept. 6 that he planned to remain Ford’s CEO through at least 2014. There is no change from that plan, which the Dearborn, Michigan-based company announced in November, said Jay Cooney, a Ford spokesman.
Steve Ballmer said last month he planned to step down as CEO at Microsoft within 12 months, prompting speculation on who will succeed him to lead the U.S. software maker. Ballmer, 57, unveiled a reorganization in July that his company called One Microsoft and was influenced by Mulally’s One Ford plan that weaned the automaker away from designing different cars for various regional markets around the world.
Ford fell 1.3 percent to $17.05 at the close in New York. The shares have surged 32 percent this year, compared with a 19 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
After his arrival from Boeing Co. in 2006, Mulally’s efforts and the $23.4 billion that the company borrowed in late 2006 enabled Ford to avoid bankruptcy in 2009, when General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC’s predecessors failed and needed U.S. rescues.
Ford earned $35.2 billion from 2009 through 2012 after losing $30.1 billion in the previous three years.
Fields, 52, was promoted to COO in December after he led a transformation of its North American operations to record profits from its worst losses four years ago. He spoke to reporters at an event for the United Way, where he insisted that the reports about Mulally going to Microsoft haven’t distracted the automaker.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “We have so many opportunities in front of us. We’re focusing on those opportunities and not getting distracted by anything.”
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