For the moment, at least, Ford Motor Co. officials are downplaying reports that CEO Alan Mulally will soon depart for a new job as the top executive at tech giant Microsoft – but even if the 68-year-old Mulally doesn’t head to Seattle his tenure in the Motor City is likely to come to an end relatively soon.
The question is what that will mean for Ford, the only Detroit automaker to avoid bankruptcy – and a subsequent federal bailout. What worries many observers is the possibility the second-largest domestic maker will return to the bad old ways that Mulally set out to change when he came onboard in late 2006.
“There is no change to what we announced in November,” Ford’s new Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields said when asked about the flurry of reports linking Mulally to Boeing.
Ford’s CEO previously worked in Seattle where he was one of the top executives at aircraft maker Boeing, and he retains strong ties to that community. But were he to return, Mulally might instead step into the shoes of Steve Ballmer, the controversial Microsoft chief who last month said he would step down within the next year, setting off speculation about who might replace him.