James Hackett set to replace outgoing CEO Mark Fields.
As per a source familiar with the matter at hand, Ford Motor Co is set to announce the departure of its Chief Executive, Mark Fields, in what marks a broad shake-up in the company in the wake of growing investor concern over the company’s stock market performance.
The New York Times has reported that James Hackett, 62, who is currently the chairman of Ford’s unit working on autonomous vehicles, is set to take the helm.
An announcement to this effect is imminent.
Ever since Fields, 56, took over the helm at Ford, its shares have fallen by almost 40%. At that time, the U.S. auto industry was on a recovery slope. Now that U.S. auto sales are slipping, Ford’s revenues are trailing those of its bigger rivals, including General Motors Co.
Ford’s chairman, Bill Ford Jr along with its board of directors have been unhappy with the company’s performance and have sought to reassure investors that its investments in electric vehicles, self-driving cars, and ride sharing services will pay off in the long run.
“We are staying focused on our plan for creating value and profitable growth,” said a Ford’s spokesman in Europe. He declined to comment “on speculation or rumors”.
The development comes in the wake of all three automakers in Detroit coming under pressure to prove that they can withstand market pressures and avoid losses.
Already Mary Barra, GM’s Chief Executive is fending off attacks from Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund, and its leader, David Einhorn, who wants to install 3 new directors on Ford’s board as well as split its stock into two classes.
“You have to have one foot in today… but also one foot in the future,” Fields told reporters last month. “I think investors understand our strategy.”
Fields’ betting on technology to mitigate rising challenges and plans to invest $1 billion over the course of the next five years, in Argo AI, a tech startup.
Although Ford had reported surging profits under Fields, in its pretax earning in 2016, investors got dismayed when it forecast higher costs for 2017 and lower profits for its investments in “emerging opportunities.”
Last week, the auto manufacturer disclosed that it would cut 1,400 salaried jobs in Asia and North America in the form of early voluntary retirement and other financial incentives.
Fields earned $22.1 million in 2016.