NEW YORK: Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said on Friday that he intends to stay as head of the second-biggest US carmaker through next year, following reports that Microsoft Corp may seek to recruit him.
“I plan to continue to serve as Ford’s president and CEO until at least the end of 2014,” to remain “absolutely laser focused” on earnings growth, Mulally wrote in an email to Bloomberg News. “I love serving Ford and will continue serving Ford,” Mulally said in an interview from Berlin with Anna Edwards on Bloomberg Television’s Countdown.
Mulally, 68, has been talked about as a possible interim CEO at Microsoft, technology-news website AllThingsD reported on September 2. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 57, said on August 23 that he plans to step down in the next 12 months, kicking off a debate about his possible successor at the US software maker.
Speculation on Ballmer’s potential replacement has focused on Nokia CEO Stephen Elop following the Finnish manufacturer’s $7.2bn agreement this month to sell its mobile-phone unit to Microsoft. Elop is a former executive at Microsoft, based in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, and will return to the US company following the deal.
Mark Martin, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment. Mulally, who previously ran Boeing’s commercial- aircraft unit, joined Ford in September 2006 and led the carmaker through the global credit crunch following the Lehman Brothers collapse without tapping government money. He’s in Berlin at the IFA technology show to present the S-Max sport-utility vehicle prototype that features new connectivity technologies including voice-control smartphone applications and a heart-rate monitoring seat.
Ford has a partnership with Microsoft to develop the auto manufacturer’s Sync system that integrates mobile devices into the car and connects the vehicle to the Internet. Mulally has been sharing advice with Ballmer on business transformation, AllThingsD reported on July 9.
Mulally is the driving force behind the One Ford strategy to use a limited number of vehicle platforms globally to save costs. He has also balanced Ford’s vehicle lineup with more small cars and a growing array of hybrid models to go along with big F-Series pick-ups, the top-selling vehicle line in the US for 36 years. His term has included eliminating jobs, reducing labor costs and selling the European luxury brands Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo.