Jan 7 Microsoft Corp is closer to
naming a new chief executive, according to a source familiar
with the board's thinking, but it lost a front-runner candidate
on Tuesday when Ford Motor Co's chief, Alan Mulally, said
he would not be going to the software giant.
Mulally's comments reignited the guessing game over who will
take over at Microsoft, following the elimination in December of
another reported candidate, Qualcomm Inc's Steve
Microsoft said last month it expects to appoint a new CEO
early this year. It has been seeking a replacement for Steve
Ballmer since the long-time CEO in August announced his plan to
Sources familiar with the process have told Reuters that
Microsoft is down to a "handful" of candidates, including one or
more outsiders from the tech industry, former Nokia
CEO Stephen Elop and insiders Satya Nadella and Tony Bates.
Mulally, who has never denied his interest in the Microsoft
job, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he will remain at
Ford at least this year. Two people close to the matter told
Reuters that Mulally is no longer under consideration for the
top job at Microsoft.
"Out of respect for the process and the potential
candidates, we don't comment on individual names," a Microsoft
The Ford CEO said he wanted to end the Microsoft speculation
"because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve
Ford." When the AP asked whether his comments should end
concerns from investors about his exit, Mulally said: "You don't
have to worry about me leaving."
Ford spokesman Jay Cooney confirmed the comments. After news
of the interview, Ford shares rose 1.3 percent in extended
trade, while Microsoft shares fell 1.1 percent.
Several prominent Microsoft investors had campaigned behind
the scenes for Mulally to succeed Ballmer. But one source
familiar with Microsoft's board's discussions said Mulally's
candidacy raised questions about "culture and leadership style".
Mulally's apparent interest in the job attracted
considerable media attention that overshadowed Ford's
product-related announcements, such as the roll-out of the new
Mustang, something that frustrated Ford's board of directors,
people familiar with the matter said.