Ford Motor Co. CFO Lewis Booth plans to retire in the first half of this year, clearing the way for CEO Alan Mulally to step up efforts to groom the next CEO, according to two people familiar with the plan.
Booth, 63, has been Mulally's de facto second in command and they are the only executives with a global view to Ford's worldwide operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified disclosing private plans. Mulally, 66, probably will retire around the end of 2013 and Booth's departure gives Mulally the opportunity to name a new No. 2 executive who could be trained as the next CEO, one of the people said. The leading candidate for that role is Mark Fields, 50, now head of Ford's operations in North America and South America, the person said.
Asked today at the Detroit auto show if he planned to retire in the first half of this year, Booth declined to comment. When Mulally was asked today if he felt his job was done turning Ford around, the CEO responded: "I'm just getting started."
Said Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton: "Alan Mulally has made clear that he remains absolutely focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan and has no plans to leave anytime soon."