Ford board director dismisses Mulally leaving for Microsoft image

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been floated as a leading candidate to succeed Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s chief executive. But Ford board member Edsel Ford II says Mulally will be sticking with the company through the end of 2014.

Edsel Ford earlier said that Mulally “is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know.” The director was speaking on the sidelines of the introduction of the new Mustang in Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford is based.

Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, said in August that he planned to step down within a year. While people familiar with the Redmond, Washington-based technology company’s thinking have said that Ford’s Mulally is considered among the top candidates to replace him, Edsel Ford’s comments pose questions about the timing of such a move.

“Frankly, he has told us that his plan is to stay with Ford through the end of 2014,” said the director, who is a great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford.

That would seem to disqualify him from taking the reins at Microsoft, since the tech stalwart is looking to find a new CEO inside of a year. Mulally himself has said the same though, though he’s generally sidestepped questions on his future. Some have theorized that, if hired, Mulally would essentially serve as a “caretaker” CEO, tasked with getting Microsoft back on the right track before stepping aside for another, longer-term replacement.

Also, Ford’s directors haven’t pressed Mulally, 68, to make a public statement to clarify that he plans to stay with the automaker because he’s made his intentions clear to the company’s board, Edsel Ford added.