Microsoft Corp's CEO shortlist got a little shorter yesterday, when pole-position candidate Alan Mulally said he would remain chief executive of Ford Motor Co for at least another year, the Associated Press reported. "You don't have to worry about me leaving," Mulally told the AP. "I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford." News of Mullally's intentions sent Ford shares up 21 cents to $15.59 in after-hours trading, while Microsoft shares fell 47 cents to $36.94 . A former Boeing aeronautical engineer, Mulally was credited with a financial turnaround at Ford, and it was on the strength of that performance that key Microsoft investors campaigned for his appointment as successor to current CEO Steve Ballmer . Ballmer announced in August 2012 that he would be stepping down within a year. Since then, Microsoft's board has been cautiously trawling for a replacement. Remaining candidates are thought to include Nokia's ex-CEO Stephen Elop and internal executives Satya Nadella , head of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, and former Skype president Tony Bates , who leads Business Development and Strategy. Another name reported in connection with the role was that of Qualcomm CFO Steve Mollenkopf . However, following a Bloomberg article alleging Microsoft's interest in him, Qualcomm promoted him to CEO the following day. Microsoft has previously indicated that it will name its new chief executive early this year, but has refused to comment on specific names "out of respect for the process and the potential candidates".
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