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Two top Ford execs to retire

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0800

Two top Ford Motor Co. executives, CFO Lewis Booth and global product development chief Derrick Kuzak-- both key architects of the automaker's recovery--will retire on April 1, the automaker said Thursday.

Booth, 63, will be succeeded by Bob Shanks, Ford's vice president and controller. Kuzak, 60, will be replaced by Raj Nair, who is currently vice president of engineering for global product development.

Booth has been mentioned as a possible successor to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who will turn 67 in August. Mulally offered no hint Thursday about his retirement plans but said Ford has a deep executive bench.

"Ford is absolutely committed to a robust succession plan," Mulally said on a media conference call.

Mark Fields, head of Ford's Americas unit, and Joe Hinrichs, the top executive in charge of Ford's operations in China and Asia, are considered front-runners to succeed Mulally.

In other changes:

-- Stuart Rowley, 44, CFO of Ford's European operations, will succeed Shanks as vice president and controller.

-- Hau Thai-Tang, 45, currently executive director of global product programs and former chief engineer for the Ford Mustang, was named vice president of engineering for global product development.

Ford has posted three straight years of profit following losses that totaled more than $30 billion from 2006 through 2008.

Booth joined Ford in 1978 as a financial analyst in product development in Europe. He later led operations for Ford in South Africa and Mazda before being tapped to head Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group, Ford's former family of European premium brands. Shortly after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a global financial crisis, Booth was named CFO.

Separately, Ford said Jon Huntsman Jr., former Republican candidate for president of the United States and ambassador to China, has been elected a director, effective immediately.

Huntsman, 51, was twice elected governor of Utah, serving from 2005 to 2009. His public service career began as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan and has since included appointments as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Asia, U.S. ambassador to Singapore and deputy U.S. trade representative.

By David Phillips- Automotive News