Ford replaces top executives, gives no hint of Mulally retirement

Ford Motor Co. announced on Thursday a series of senior management changes but gave no hint to who might succeed Alan Mulally as the automaker’s next chief executive.

Lewis Booth, executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development, have elected to retire effective April 1. Each has served the automaker for more than 30 years and at times have been mentioned as possible successors to Mulally.

Booth, 63, will be succeeded by Bob Shanks, who is currently vice president and controller. Kuzak, 60, will be succeeded by Raj Nair, who is currently vice president of engineering, global product development.

Booth and Kuzak, along with Mulally, made up the management team that restructured Ford in recent years, making it the only domestic manufacturer not to file for bankruptcy protection and become a recipient of a federal bailout.

“Lewis Booth and Derrick Kuzak represent the very best of Ford and our culture and built a legacy of leadership, integrity and commitment to excellence that will benefit us for years to come,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “Lewis and Derrick were absolutely integral to the comeback of Ford, and they are retiring with our deepest respect and gratitude.” 

The company remains mum on any succession plans for when Mulally, 66, retires. He is a former Boeing executive who joined the company in 2006.  Bill Ford recruited Mulally after the automaker’s board of directors decided the company needed a veteran executive from a major industrial company to reorganize the business so that it could weather what turned out to be the worst recession since the Great Depression.  

During a dinner in Detroit last month, Mulally declined to talk to The Times about any potential retirement plans, saying, “I consider it an honor to continue to serve Ford.” 

He gave no indication that he plans to retire anytime soon.  But because of his age, there is constant speculation as to who might succeed Mulally. Hyundai Motor America Chief Executive John Krafcik, a former Ford executive, as well as current Ford executives Americas President Mark Fields, Asia Pacific and Africa President Joe Hinrichs and Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell are all considered potential candidates.   

Additionally, Ford said former Republican presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. has joined the company’s Board of Directors effective immediately. Huntsman, 51, is the former governor of Utah and served in the Obama administration as the U.S. ambassador to China.


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