Ford replaces CEO in push to transform business

Alicia Cross
May 22, 2017

The company source confirmed earlier reports that Mark Fields was to leave Ford, but the firm was yet to comment.

Despite $9 billion in pre-tax profit, Wall Street hasn't been a fan of Ford Motor Company and the Dearborn-based global automaker has changed horses, according to an early report by Forbes.

James Hackett, who will now take up Fields' role, previously served as the Ford Director for three years before leaving the board to become the chairman of the newly formed mobility services subsidiary in March 2016.

Mr Fields began the task of Ford's transition from a traditional automaker to a "mobility" company, laying out plans to build autonomous vehicles and explore new services such as ride-hailing and car-sharing.

Silicon Valley electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc was valued at $51 billion on Friday, more than Ford's $43 billion.

Joseph Hinrichs, head of Ford's critical Americas division, will expand his role to become executive vice-president for global operations. Fields has come under pressure for the company's flagging stock price, which has sank almost 40 percent during his stint as CEO.

The ouster of Fields is part of a larger management shakeup at Ford.

Ford has churned out strong profits under Fields, reporting a record $10.4 billion in pretax earnings in 2016. "I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford's people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period".

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The reshuffle remains unconfirmed, and a Ford spokesperson declined to comment on "speculation", adding, "We're concentrating on Ford Motor Company's plan".

Is now the time for new leadership at Ford?

But investors anxious about Ford's sliding USA market share and product decisions.

Fields had the tough job of following CEO Alan Mulally, another auto industry outsider who was hired away from Boeing to lead Ford.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal past year, Mr. Hackett said he wasn't interested in being a CEO again but was interested in helping Mr. Fields think through tough challenges.

Hackett and Bill Ford said they also want to modernize Ford's business processes by taking advantage of things like 3D printing, big data and artificial intelligence.

Among his bets on technology is a plan to invest $1 billion over the next five years in tech startup Argo AI.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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