Loading…
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Friday, 2/10/2012

2 top execs at Ford plan to retire in early April

CEO Mulally says he has no desire to leave

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT -- Two key leaders in Ford Motor Co.'s remarkable turnaround are retiring.

Lewis Booth, chief financial officer, and Derrick Kuzak, product development chief, will leave the company April 1.

The moves, in the works for months, raised questions about how long Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, 66, will stay and whether Ford can continue its renaissance under new executives.

President and Controller Bob Shanks, 59, will succeed Mr. Booth. Vice President of Engineering and Product Development Raj Nair, 47, will replace Mr. Kuzak. Mr. Mulally said the promotions were part of the company's succession plan for every top management position.

Mr. Kuzak, 60, and Mr. Booth, 63, each served more than three decades with the Dearborn, Mich., company. Their most important years were the last five when Ford turned itself around after borrowing $23.5 billion in 2006 to stay in business. Both were once in a pool of candidates to succeed Mr. Mulally, but bowed out when it became clear that the youthful, energetic CEO would stay beyond the normal retirement age of 65.

Although Mr. Kuzak and Mr. Booth helped spearhead Ford's renaissance, the company should continue its progress after they leave, said Bruce Clark, senior vice president of Moody's Investors Service.

Under Mr. Mulally, the company has focused on the "One Ford" plan, rolling out products, matching production to demand, paying down debt in an effort to return to investment-grade status, and cutting engineering and design costs.

"We don't think that these changes in any way alter the financial or operational strategy that's been in place," Mr. Clark said.

Company insiders say leading candidates to replace Mr. Mulally are Americas President Mark Fields, Asia Pacific and Africa President Joe Hinrichs, and Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell.

Mr. Mulally wouldn't talk about when he will leave the company or who might succeed him.

"I have no plans to retire, and I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to continue to serve Ford," he said. He was hired away from aviation giant Boeing Co. in 2006.

Mr. Booth led Ford Motor Co.'s financial operations through the 2008 banking crisis. As Ford returned to profitability, he pushed to repay nearly all of the money it borrowed to survive.

Mr. Kuzak is credited with shifting Ford's focus from trucks to cars at a time when gas prices were rising and buyers placed greater value on fuel economy.

He has led an effort to lower engineering costs by hundreds of millions of dollars by designing cars to be sold in all markets across the globe.

Also, Ford's board appointed ex-GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. as a company director.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories