Ford's new CEO promises urgency and a shake-up of management

Jim Farley succeeds Jim Hackett as Ford's 11th CEO.
Jim Farley succeeds Jim Hackett as Ford's 11th CEO.
Image: Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Ford Motor Co's new CEO, Jim Farley, on Thursday promised the US car maker would move with urgency, responding to investor and analyst criticism of the speed at which his predecessor acted.

Farley, on his first day as Ford's 11th CEO, also announced an executive shake-up that included naming a new CFO.

Ford's promise to accelerate its turnaround is not new at a time when it is executing an $11bn restructuring (roughly R183,804,500,000) process.

Farley was named COO in February and promised a faster return to strong profits. He was officially tapped to succeed Jim Hackett in August.

“During the past three years, under Jim Hackett's leadership, we have made meaningful progress and opened the door to becoming a vibrant, profitably growing company,” Farley said in a statement on Thursday. “Now it's time to charge through that door.”

Hackett and Ford have been criticised by some on Wall Street for not moving quickly enough on its restructuring. At the end of the second quarter, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company had incurred only $3.9bn (roughly R65,104,650,000) of the projected $11bn in charges.

Ford on Thursday reaffirmed its goal for operating margins of 8%, something it identified as a 2020 target before the coronavirus pandemic hit. It did not specify when it would achieve this target.

Ford's operating margin was 4.1% last year, before falling to negative 4.8% in the first half of 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company also said John Lawler would succeed Tim Stone as CFO.

Stone, who will remain with Ford until October 15, accepted a job as COO and CFO with ASAPP Inc, an artificial-intelligence software company. Stone had been in the CFO job only since June 2019.

Farley outlined his objectives during a virtual town hall meeting with Ford's global team on Thursday, saying the company will allocate capital to its strongest franchises and high-growth opportunities, such as the F-Series pickup truck and its commercial business.

It also will add more affordable vehicles to its global line-up, build electric vehicles at scale and stand up new autonomous-enabled businesses, he said. Decision making will be pushed down to the regional level.

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