Ford’s Mulally exits Microsoft CEO race image

Microsoft Corp lost a front-runner candidate yesterday when Ford Motor Co’s chief executive officer, Alan Mulally, said he would not be going to the software giant.

Mulally officially said he plans to stay with the No. 2 U.S. automaker through 2014, underscoring the challenge of finding a new CEO to run the world’s largest software maker.

“I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford,” Mulally, 68, told the Associated Press in an interview yesterday.

Mulally said he will stay with Ford through this year. Jay Cooney, a spokesman, confirmed the remarks. Mulally’s comments reignited the guessing game over who will take over at Microsoft, following the elimination in December of another reported candidate, Qualcomm Inc’s Steve Mollenkopf.

After news of the interview, Ford shares rose 1.3 % in extended trade, while Microsoft shares fell 1.1 %. Several prominent Microsoft investors had campaigned behind the scenes for Mulally to succeed Ballmer. But one source familiar with Microsoft’s board’s discussions said Mulally’s candidacy raised questions about “culture and leadership style”.

Mulally, Executive Chairman Bill Ford, director Edsel Ford and other company leaders had frequently reiterated a 14-month-old plan that called for Mulally to remain Ford’s CEO through at least this year, without directly responding to questions about Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft. Ford established a successor to Mulally when it promoted Mark Fields, 52, to chief operating officer in December 2012.

Via Reuters, Bloomberg