Analyst says Mulally’s move to Microsoft is very likely image

Microsoft shares have been rising on news reports that the technology giant is closing in on finding a new CEO, with Ford’s Alan Mulally considered a top-five candidate.

One influential analyst is throwing his predictive weight behind the affable Mulally to replace retiring CEO Steve Ballmer.

“We think it likely that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is Microsoft’s top pick based on the merits of his candidacy and will be named Microsoft’s new CEO in a month or so, ” writes Nomura Equity Research’s Rick Sherlund in a note to investors Wednesday.

Before coming to Ford in 2006, Mulally ran Boeing’s commercial aircraft business from Seattle, near Microsoft’s headquarters. He still owns a home in the Seattle area.

Mulally’s “non-denial denials regarding his interest in the position are in contrast to outright comments from some of the other candidates that have been approached,” says Sherlund.

Also, Ford’s board of directors acknowledges they don’t have a contract with Mulally. They have already chosen his successor, which is Mark Fields.

Mulally also reportedly advised Ballmer on a reorganization that would likely be shaped around the one he undertook at Ford. Called One Ford, it pulled together previously independently operating groups around the world into a more unified organization with common products.