News Column

Detroit Free Press Tom Walsh column

May 1, 2014

By Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press



May 01--Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor, said the auto company's board of directors decided in a meeting Wednesday to approve Mark Fields as the successor to Alan Mulally as president and CEO, effective July 1.

Asked why the board didn't wait to act until its long-scheduled May 8 annual shareholders meeting in Delaware, Bill Ford said, "We wanted it nailed down. We wanted to just get it out before the annual meeting."

"So we had a board meeting to do this," Ford said in an interview with the Free Press today, "because once you make a decision you've got to disclose. So we really hadn't finalized the decision until yesterday ... Alan and I have have been talking about it for a long time, and with Mark for a long time. But the board hadn't really finalized their decision until yesterday, when we said we're ready to go now and this is our recommendation."

-- Tom Walsh: Mulally exit sets stage for palace intrigue at Ford

Fields has been Ford's chief operating officer and heir-apparent as CEO since late 2012, but there have been periodic bursts of speculation about the timing of Mulally's departure ever since reports surfaced late last year that he might replace Steve Ballmer as head of Microsoft. That didn't happen, but the speculation had become something of a distraction within Ford, leading to reports that Mulally, 68, would probably step down before the end of this year.

"It just seemed like a nice cadence," Bill Ford said of the decision to go public with an announcement before a gathering of Ford employees in Dearborn, rather than waiting a week to do it in Delaware. "If you try and pack it into the annual meeting -- those are odd affairs -- there's just a hodge-podge of different things that come up at annual meetings, both on-agenda and off-agenda. I felt that this was just going to be too much to handle at that meeting and still handle all that other business."

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Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)