There are insider reports saying that Mark Fields, the current Ford Motor Co. president of the Americas, will be promoted to chief operating officer, making it highly possible that Ford’s directors are grooming him to be the successor to Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally. Bloomberg cited a person familiar with the plan as the source.
It’s likely that Ford’s board will make the vote this month or in October to promote Fields. A Ford veteran for 23 years, Fields had served as the executive vice president of Ford of Europe. He had also led its luxury brands in Europe like Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo, which was later sold by Ford. Fields also gets the credit for contributing to the transformation of Ford’s North American operations from having incurred losses four years ago to achieving record profits in 2012.
The board meeting is set to take place Wednesday. If Fields does get this promotion, he will be in line to be the replacement of 67-year-old Mulally, who is credited for having saved Ford (the No.2 biggest automaker in the U.S.) without having to resort to bankruptcy or a federal bailout. The source told Bloomberg that Fields has always been the favorite to replace Mulally, who is set to retire at the end of 2012.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal last Tuesday, several Ford directors believe that Ford should announce a succession plan in order to give make shareholders secure as well as offer promotion opportunities for executives who currently report to Mulally. Several sources told The Journal that Ford hasn’t yet made the vote to permit a concrete succession plan.
Ford would need to announce this decision right away since a change in the executive suite would be material to its financial outlook and business. Mulally hasn’t confirmed when he will retire. The Journal said that the other board members don’t intend to force him out but are making plans for his departure by the end of 2012.
After logging a superb sale performance in the first quarter in the United States, Ford revised its 2012 forecast for industry-wide volume. According to Fields, Ford now forecast the US auto industry sales for 2012 to be between 14.5 million and 15 million units. The numbers include heavy and medium trucks.
The forecast is a huge improvement from the previous figures of between 13.5 million and 14.5 million vehicles. The company now expects the sales of light vehicles for 2012 to be between 14.2 million and 14.7 million units, excluding medium and heavy trucks.