DETROIT (AP) — Longtime Ford executive Mark Fields was named chief operating officer of the company on Thursday, putting him in line to replace CEO Alan Mulally as soon as 2015.
Mulally, 67, said Thursday that he plans to remain CEO at least through 2014, putting to rest — for now — the swirl of speculation about his retirement plans. Fields will become COO on Dec. 1.
Fields, 51, will lead day-to-day operations and head up the company’s weekly business reviews with senior leadership. All of the company’s business units will report to him. Mulally will lead the company’s long-term strategy and product plans. He’ll also support and mentor his new leadership team.
Ford announced the moves before the stock market opened Thursday. Shares fell nearly 2 percent on the news in early trading, but began climbing. They were down 1 percent to $11.02 in late morning trading.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said Fields has managed the transformation of the company’s North American operations, which were losing billions of dollars when Fields took over that key region in October 2005. The company closed plants, laid off thousands of workers, streamlined its vehicle development process and introduced strong new vehicles like the Explorer and Fusion. Earlier this week, Ford reported a record $2.3 billion pretax profit in North America.
“I put Mark in that job seven years ago. The growth that we’ve all seen in him has been remarkable,” Bill Ford said.
Ford’s board decided on the leadership changes at its regular meeting Oct. 19. Bill Ford stopped short of saying Fields would definitely be named CEO when Mulally retires, but he did say he would prefer Ford’s next CEO to come from inside the company.
“I always look at talent, not only internally but externally. But I’m very happy with the team we’ve put together,” he said.
Joe Hinrichs, who is now head of Asia Pacific and Africa, will replace Fields as head of the Americas. Hinrichs, 45, who ran Ford’s manufacturing operations before taking over Asia, has also been frequently mentioned as a successor to Mulally.
David Schoch, currently chairman of Ford China, will become head of the Asia Pacific region.
Stephen Odell, group vice president of Europe, was named executive vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa. He also was among the candidates to succeed Mulally.
Jim Farley, who is currently head of global marketing, will also become the head of Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand. Lincoln has been struggling in recent years, and Ford is trying to revive it with new products. It’s also introducing Lincoln to China in 2014.
Ford hasn’t had a COO since 2006, when former President and COO Jim Padilla retired. Mulally said he has never worked with a COO, either at Ford or at Boeing Co., where he spent 36 years before coming to Ford.
“I’m really looking forward to nurturing Mark and supporting this team,” Mulally said.
Mulally is highly respected at Ford for saving the company from financial collapse. Shortly after Bill Ford hired him in 2006, he mortgaged all of Ford’s assets for a $23.5 billion loan, paid for a restructuring and helped keep Ford out of bankruptcy protection. Ford reported its best-ever third quarter pretax profit of $2.2 billion earlier this week.
“We not only survived but we have created a company that is healthy and is growing and has a clear vision for the future,” Mulally said in a phone call with analysts and media.
More Related Stories
- Illinois' fracking and coal rush is a national crisis
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11