Ford replaces 2 executives, gives no hint of Mulally retirement

Ford Motor Co. announced 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 of global product development, have elected to retire effective April 1. Each has served the automaker for more than 30 years and at times has been mentioned as a possible successor to Mulally.

Booth, 63, will be succeeded by Bob Shanks, who is currently vice president and controller, it was announced Thursday. Kuzak, 60, will be succeeded by Raj Nair, currently vice president of engineering for 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 any time 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 three current Ford executives — Mark Fields, president of the automaker's Americas region; Joe Hinrichs, president of the Asia Pacific and Africa region; and Stephen Odell, Ford's European CEO — are all considered potential candidates.

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

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