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Ford CEO May Step Down Earlier Than Expected

A potential successor is gaining the board's confidence


Alan MulallySources tell Reuters that Ford‘s (F) board of directors is growing more comfortable with potential successors to CEO Alan Mulally, who is said to be considering leaving the company to take other high profile positions.

A former Boeing (BA) executive, Mulally joined Ford in 2006 when the country’s second-ranked automaker was in financial disarray and came close to insolvency. Under his leadership, Ford successfully executed a painful turnaround that restored its finances and sales without the need for a federal bailout. Last year, the automaker approved a succession plan that would have kept Mulally in the top spot until the end of 2014.

Ford Kicking Into High Gear — Buy Now
Ford Kicking Into High Gear — Buy Now

Chief Operating Office Mark Fields is generally seen as the leading candidate to replace Mulally when he departs Ford. Sources indicate that Fields has growing support on the company’s board.

The 68-year-old Mulally has previously discussed taking a job with the Obama administration, according to the sources. He has also been suggested as a possible replacement for outgoing Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer.

The board is now apparently willing to consider the possibility that he might resign as Ford’s CEO before the end of next year.

For his part, Mulally told Reuters that he remains “absolutely focused on serving Ford.”

Shares of Ford fell more than 1% in Friday morning trading.

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