Once Reuters reported Ford (NYSE:F) would hold an unexpected pre-Christmas meeting for analysts, the auto and tech worlds began bracing for news about Chief Executive Alan Mulally and his speculated departure to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Though there is substance behind the proposed movements of Mulally, Ford may very well be gearing up for its unprecedented slate of new vehicle releases in 2014.
In fact, the wave of releases is in many ways a showcase for the achievements of Mulally during his tenure at Ford. The chief executive’s “One Ford” strategy has built brand reputation worldwide, while its new releases continue to please critics and consumers alike. During Mulally’s tenure, Ford presented the Focus as a global car competing to be the worldwide bestselling, introduced a dazzling new Fusion that is excelling in the midsize segment, and furthered the reign of the F-150 as America’s top-selling truck.
The recent unveiling of the 2015 Ford Mustang showed Ford is far from finished with its ambitious agenda. The automaker will release a record 23 different vehicles in 2014, which some analysts say is enough reason to prompt the December 18 meeting.
A Morgan Stanley analyst told Reuters the December 18 meeting may very well just be an opportunity for Ford to update its earnings estimates for the coming year. However, news about Mulally continued to dominate the headlines in a week when GM (NYSE:GM) announced Mary Barra was taking the reins as the next chief executive of the top U.S. automaker.
Speculation about Mulally’s departure mainly focuses on the needs of Microsoft. While Mulally’s reputation as the turnaround whiz could be a good fit for the tech company, many point to Mulally’s lack of expertise in Microsoft’s products as an argument against his candidacy.
Mulally constantly reiterates how happy he is at Ford while the automaker’s directors repeat the plan for him to stay on as chief executive through 2014. One auto analyst told Reuters it is preferable to resolve the Ford succession plan quickly rather than have it “stealing attention away from key model launches.” For now, Ford is trying to keep the focus on automobiles and away from the executive class.
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