* Mulally staying as CEO longer than analysts expected
* Plan stops short of formally naming successor to Mulally
* Chairman says hopes next CEO will come from within
* Joe Hinrichs moves to head of the Americas
By Deepa Seetharaman and Paul Lienert
Nov 1 Ford Motor Co said Alan Mulally has
agreed to stay on as chief executive for at least two more
years, giving the No. 2 U.S. automaker more time to gauge
potential successors -- or keep Mulally on longer if needed.
Mark Fields, a 23-year Ford veteran seen as the front runner
to succeed Mulally, was promoted to chief operating officer as
part of several top management changes on Thursday. But Ford
stopped short of formally anointing Fields, 51, as its next CEO.
The new timetable keeps Mulally, 67, in place for at least
one year beyond what analysts expected. Chairman Bill Ford also
said Mulally could stay longer and left open the possibility
that Ford eventually could hire an outsider to fill the role.
"I'd like him to stay forever, but part of being a great CEO
is also developing a great team," Bill Ford said during a
conference call. "We really do have a great team that Alan has
developed and mentored, and he'll continue to do that."
The announcement raises questions about the board's
confidence that Fields or others within Ford can lead the
automaker at a time when it is overhauling its struggling
European operations and building up its fledgling China
Both Bill Ford and Mulally said the next two years will
offer the company a chance to further develop and strengthen its
management team. Fields, who has led North and South America for
seven years, will assume day-to-day responsibility for global
Ford also promoted several other executives Thursday,
including Joe Hinrichs, who will take on Fields' current role as
head of the Americas. Hinrichs, seen as a potential candidate
for CEO, now leads Ford's operations in Asia and Africa.
"Today is really about developing the individuals, but also
about developing the team," Mulally said during the conference
call. "Mark is getting a chance to develop and serve as COO."
'I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE'
As COO, Fields will lead the weekly business review meetings
that have been one the most visible signs of cultural change at
Ford since Mulally was hired in 2006.
"I'm going to step back from that and focus on supporting
Mark," Mulally said. "And I'll be there; I'm not going anywhere.
I'll be there with him and supporting him."
The management changes, approved by Ford's board on Oct. 19,
are all effective on Dec. 1.
Naming Mulally's successor is crucial for Ford because he is
closely identified with the automaker's rebound and its success
in avoiding the federal bailouts that rescued its U.S. rivals,
General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC, in
Under Mulally, the culture has become more open, a reversal
from the automaker's previous culture of "empire building and
back-biting," Bill Ford said. Mulally's "One Ford" strategy,
which centers on connecting Ford's once-disconnected business
units to achieve economies of scale, has allowed the automaker
cut costs and boost profits.
Bill Ford did not rule out the possibility of hiring an
outsider, as he did when he hired Mulally, then an executive at
Boeing Co, to steer Ford's turnaround six years ago.
But he added: "I think I'd be surprised if we didn't have
the next CEO come from inside."
CEO SPOT 'UP FOR GRABS'
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said Mulally's extended
timeframe as well as other management overhaul made Ford's
succession plan "far less obvious today."
"The next Ford CEO is truly up for grabs," Jonas said in a
note. "We believe Ford is keeping its options open to consider
several talented managers in the organization to eventually take
the wheel from Alan ... not just Mark Fields."
Hinrichs' current position will be split in half, with Ford
of Europe chief Stephen Odell taking on Africa and David Schoch,
now head of Ford of China, leading Asia Pacific operations.
Odell will also add the Middle East to his responsibilities,
which include overseeing Ford's restructuring in Europe, where
the automaker is expected to lose at least $3 billion over the
next two years due to the economic downturn in the region.
Jim Farley, the global head of marketing, will now add
responsibility for the Lincoln brand. John Lawler, current chief
financial officer of Asia Pacific and African operations, will
become CEO of Ford China.
Bill Ford said that Fields has grown in his role over the
last seven years, pointing to this week's third-quarter earnings
report as proof. Ford had a record 12-percent operating margin
in North America in the third quarter.
"I put Mark into that job seven years ago," Bill Ford said.
"The growth that we've all seen in him over that period is
remarkable. Alan has done a tremendous job of mentoring Mark."