The board of directors of Ford Motor Co. is considering a plan to keep current chief executive Alan Mulally involved with the company after his rumored retirement at the end of 2013 by installing him as the board's nonexecutive chairman, a person privy with the matter told Reuters. The source told Reuters that the carmaker’s board held a meeting September 13, 2012 to discuss the possible appointment of Mark Fields, currently president of Americas for Ford, as the carmaker’s new Chief Operating Officer. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Ford’s board is planning to promote Fields as its COO, placing him in good position to become Mulally’s successor after his 2013 retirement.
The news organizations remarked that even if the board did decide on the succession issue during the meeting, it was unclear whether Ford would make an announcement on any executive change. Reuters’ source disclosed that Bill Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, would remain executive chairman if Mulally is installed as nonexecutive chairman.
According to Ray Day, Ford's vice president of communications, the US carmaker takes succession planning “very seriously” and the company has succession plans in place for each of the automaker’s key leadership positions. Day, however, said that due to competitive reasons, Ford does not discuss details of the succession plans externally. The appointment of an heir to Mulally is a critical issue for Ford since the current CEO is credited with reviving the carmaker’s ailing fortunes without undergoing bankruptcy and receiving bailout money from the US government.