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Ford to replace CEO with connected car division boss – reports

Share price slump sees a certain door opening early

By Gareth Corfield, 22 May 2017

Ford has reportedly invited its CEO to leave following a slump in share prices which some media reports pin on the US auto maker’s shift from focusing on cars to tech.

The US Associated Press reported this morning that 56-year-old Mark Fields is retiring “amid questions about its current performance and future strategy”. Under his leadership Ford had switched its corporate focus from traditional cars to connected cars.

A car ecommerce analyst quoted by the AP said that Fields had been tasked with turning the carmaker into “a high tech information-style company with share values to match”. Ford exec chairman Bill Ford denied Fields had been fired, telling AP: “He and I sat down Friday and really decided this was the right time for him to go and for us to have new leadership."

Reuters followed up by reporting that Ford’s share price dived by 37 per cent since Fields took over as CEO three years ago.

Fields will be replaced by the current head of Ford’s autonomous driving division, Jim Hackett. The company is building its own data centre to support its connected car operations, while taking on 400 devs from BlackBerry to strengthen its software operations.

It seems likely that, with Fields’ successor as chief exec being the head of Ford’s connected car business, the company's move towards connected cars and their data will continue with few significant changes. Hackett's main challenge, however, will be getting the share price back to a level that stockholders are comfortable with. ®

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