Ford's Mulally says he won't leave for Microsoft

When asked if his latest comments should end investor concern about his departure, Mulally said, "You don't have to worry about me leaving," the AP reported. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

UPDATED: 1/7/14 7:08 pm ET

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally will not take a job at software giant Microsoft Corp., ending months of speculation, and will remain at the automaker through at least this year, according to the Associated Press.

In an interview with the AP on Tuesday, Mulally said he wanted to end the Microsoft speculation. He wouldn't say if he had talked with the software giant.

"I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford," Mulally said in an interview, the AP reported.

When asked if this should end investor concern about his departure, Mulally said, "You don't have to worry about me leaving," according to the AP report.

There have been numerous reports that Mulally was on the short list of candidates to replace Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer. In August, the software maker said that Ballmer plans to step down as CEO.

Mulally said all the talk about his possible departure from Ford to join Microsoft had become a distraction for the automaker, the AP reported.

His candidacy to lead Microsoft threatened to overshadow new-vehicle introductions planned for next week's Detroit auto show and raised the risk of internal strife among his deputies at the company.

A Ford spokesman confirmed that Mulally, 68, said he plans to remain at the automaker through the end of the year, but he could not confirm whether Mulally said specifically he would not pursue a job with Microsoft.

"Alan made it absolutely clear today that he has no plans to do anything else other than to continue serving Ford. He's completely focused on making progress with the One Ford Plan," said Ford spokesman Jay Cooney. "There is no change from our previously announced plans."

Mulally is the third-longest serving CEO of Ford, behind Henry Ford and Henry Ford II. A former Boeing executive, he joined Ford in 2006 and is widely credited with returning the company to profitability and changing the culture, ending widespread executive infighting.

Until now, he has not directly addressed the widespread speculation he would depart Ford for Microsoft.

Mulally, speaking to journalists at Ford's annual media holiday party in December, dodged questions about whether the company's board of directors pressed him to clarify his future with the company.

"Nothing has changed," he said at the time. "I love working for Ford. We don't comment on speculation."

Several prominent Microsoft investors had campaigned behind the scenes for Mulally to succeed Ballmer. This frustrated Ford's board of directors, people familiar with the matter said.

Ford established a successor to Mulally when it promoted Mark Fields, 52, to COO in December 2012.

Mulally's candidacy for the Microsoft job had faded amid concerns about his age and lack of technology experience, people with knowledge of the search said last month.

Other candidates for the Microsoft post have dropped out or declined to be considered including Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm Inc.'s No. 2 exec who was named CEO of the chipmaker last month.

EBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe and former VMware Inc. CEO Paul Maritz declined to be considered, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Reuters, Bloomberg and David Phillips contributed to this report.

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