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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 05:40 GMT 06:40 UK
Boeing exec made new Ford chief
Alan Mulally, Ford's new chief executive
Mr Mulally leaves Boeing after 37 years
Ailing US car firm Ford Motor has announced that former Boeing commercial chief Alan Mulally will replace Bill Ford as chief executive.

Bill Ford, the great-grandson of the firm's founder, will remain executive chairman.

The news comes after the company revealed a $1.3bn (680m) loss in the first six months of 2006.

Mr Ford recently said the firm needed a completely new business model to return to profitability.

Competition

Mr Mulally brings a lot of skills in cutting structural costs, where Ford needs to make progress
Mark Oline
Analyst, Fitch ratings

At the same time Mr Ford said the firm needed to look into tie-ups with other car firms as well as make more profits from its cars and smaller sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

He said he had decided earlier in the year that he was not the best man to lead the car maker into the future.

"I went to the board earlier this summer and said `I've got too much to do, I'm wearing too many hats'," he said.

"In this environment, it was clear to me I needed somebody with a skill set who can take us further."

"When I looked at what we need now, it was very apparent to me that I wanted somebody, if that person existed, who had major turnaround experience in an industrial company and who was willing, ready and able to take on this challenge."

Challenged

Mr Mulally, who has headed Boeing's commercial aircraft division in its battle with Airbus for the past eight years, said he had only taken the job on the condition that Mr Ford remained as chairman.

While not being a car specialist he said he was "certainly a product designer" who cared "deeply about having a viable business".

"Mr Mulally brings a lot of skills in cutting structural costs, where Ford needs to make progress," said analyst Mark Oline of Fitch ratings, after the announcement.

But he added that "Ford remains challenged to stabilise market share losses and revenue declines".

Like General Motors, Ford has faced stiff competition from Japanese car firms in recent years, as consumers have switched to more efficient cars away from "gas-guzzlers".

"Ford wouldn't be in this position [of declining share] if it didn't have these problems on the product side, said Erich Merkle, an analyst with Irn.

"What Ford has to do on the product side is to get back to an understanding of why people purchase cars and take more risks in terms of design."

Restructuring

In an email to Ford employees, Bill Ford said that the firm's turnaround scheme "required the additional skills of an executive who has led a major manufacturing enterprise through such challenges before".

Mr Mulally, who leaves Boeing after 37 years, has been credited with "making an old manufacturing company revive and thrive", said the BBC's North American business correspondent Guto Harri.

Mr Ford oversaw two restructuring plans, the most recent which started seven months ago, but this failed to improve the firm's financial position.

Under this latest plan, the firm said in January that it would cut 30,000 jobs and shut 14 operations by 2012.

The Ford family still retains a 40% voting stake in the eponymous car firm.

Shares in the firm closed 30 cents higher to $8.69 after the bell.



SEE ALSO
Ford 'in need of new direction'
04 Sep 06 |  Business
Ford considers Aston Martin sale
31 Aug 06 |  Business
Ford to cut car production by 21%
18 Aug 06 |  Business
Ford heralds slow demise of SUV
09 Aug 06 |  Business
Ford review 'may spark sell-off'
02 Aug 06 |  Business
Carmaker Ford hit by $123m losses
20 Jul 06 |  Business

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