Huntsman named a Ford company director

Feb 9 2012 - 11:28am

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Former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. talks about the economy during an interview at the Standard-Examiner office in Ogden. (2008) (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Exami...
Former Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. talks about the economy during an interview at the Standard-Examiner office in Ogden. (2008) (ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Exami...

DETROIT -- Two top Ford executives who helped lead the company's comeback from financial disaster are retiring.

Lewis Booth, chief financial officer, and Derrick Kuzak, product development chief, will retire on April 1. Both were once leading candidates to replace CEO Alan Mulally, 66, who said Thursday he has no plans to retire.

Also Thursday, Ford's board appointed former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. as a company director.

The moves, in the works for months, raised questions about how long Mulally will stay in his job and whether Ford can continue its renaissance under new executives.

Mulally promoted Vice President and Controller Bob Shanks, 59, to succeed Booth. Vice President of Engineering and Product Development Raj Nair, 47, will replace Kuzak. Mulally said the promotions were part of the company's succession plan for every top management position.

Company insiders say the leading candidates to replace Mulally are now Americas President Mark Fields, Asia Pacific and Africa President Joe Hinrichs and Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell.

Mulally wouldn't talk about when he will leave the company or who might succeed him. "I have no plans to retire, and I'm absolutely thrilled and honored to continue to serve Ford," he said Thursday. Mulally was hired away from aviation giant Boeing Co. in 2006 to rescue Ford.

Kuzak, 60, and Booth, 63, each served more than three decades with the Dearborn, Mich., company. Their most important years were the last five when Ford turned itself around after borrowing $23.5 billion to stay in business.

Booth led Ford' Motor Co.'s financial operations through the banking crisis in 2008. He helped the company repay much of its debt. Kuzak is credited with shifting Ford's focus from trucks to cars, and leading an effort to cut engineering costs.

AP Business Writer Samantha Bomkamp in New York contributed to this report.

 

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