Mulally says he’s not stepping down as Ford CEO just yet

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally says he is not leaving yet.

“No change to the plan,” Mulally said this morning on a conference call with investors and media when asked about reports he is preparing to retire before year’s end to pursue other interests.

When Mark Fields was named to the new position of chief operating officer in 2012, Mulally said he would remain as CEO through the end of 2014, if not longer.

Last year that premise was tested when Mulally’s name was repeatedly mentioned as a top candidate to become CEO of Microsoft. The speculation, which was proving distracting at Ford by year’s end, prompted Mulally to end his coy remarks and state plainly his intention was to remain with Ford through 2014.

Indications have arisen anew that Mulally will pass the baton to Fields sooner rather than later and clarity on the timing could be forthcoming next month.

“We don’t comment on speculation and have no change to the plan,” Mulally said repeatedly today.

He said he and Executive Chairman Bill Ford seven years ago put a high priority on developing a robust leadership team and strong succession plan.

Mulally made the comments on a call to discuss Ford first-quarter earnings. Ford reported a $989 million profit in the first quarter, down 39% from a year ago with some warranty charges and higher expenses as the automaker kicks off its most aggressive year of product launches in 50 years.

Courtesy of The Detroit Free Press

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