Sources say board looked at outside candidates

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s board considered some outsiders for the CEO job before it chose William Clay Ford Jr., three well-informed sources said last week.

Two sources named J.T. Battenberg, chairman of Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., as a possible candidate. One source named former Chrysler Corp. President Tom Stallkamp. Stallkamp and Battenberg declined to comment.

It is not clear if Ford made a formal job offer to any of these executives. One source insisted the automaker had offered the CEO job to an outsider. Two other sources were not able to confirm this account.

It also is not clear how much power Ford’s board was willing to offer an outsider. Bill Ford Jr.’s role was a complicating factor. Would an outsider have the clout to make decisions, or would he be forced to share power with Henry Ford’s increasingly assertive great-grandson?

In light of this, the company’s decision to name Bill Ford Jr. CEO had one distinct advantage. His role is more clearly defined; he no longer needs to pull strings behind the scenes.

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com

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