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Ford denies authorizing search for Mulally successor
Ford Motor Co. is denying a Wall Street Journal report suggesting a search has been authorized to find a replacement for CEO Alan Mulally, who is expected to step down in the next couple of years.

"The story is false," said Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton, confirming the board has not sanctioned any external searches for candidates, nor has any outside agency been hired to seek candidates.

Mulally, as a guest on the "Fox and Friends" morning show Tuesday, said, "There's always going to be speculation about succession plans but it's absolutely not true."

The company continues to groom a list of internal candidates for succession when the time comes, which could be in the next two years. Mulally has consistently ducked questions on the timing of his retirement. He is 66 years old.

"As Bill Ford has consistently said, we will always consider both internal and external candidates for any succession plan, but we do not have a search under way for an external CEO successor," Hampton said.

Internal candidates include frontrunner Mark Fields, president of The Americas; Lewis Booth, chief financial officer; Joe Hinrichs who oversees Asian operations; Jim Farley, head of global marketing, sales and service; and Stephen Odell, who heads Ford of Europe.

"Any report of discussions with external candidates is false," Hampton said.

As for suggestions that Ford could hire a chief operating officer at some point in the future to work closely with Mulally and eventually succeed him, Hampton said she cannot rule out board actions in the future, but said the automaker has no current plans to create a COO position.  Detroit News

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