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Ford executive Mark Fields will succeed Alan Mullaly as CEO

Ford executive Mark Fields will succeed Alan Mullaly as CEO

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The second-biggest automaker in America is getting ready for a changing of the guard: Ford is preparing to name its Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields as its next CEO. Under the plan, current CEO Alan Mulally will step down on July 1st, despite Ford claiming late last year that he would stay on as CEO "through 2014."

This move comes just a few months after General Motors itself appointed Mary Barra as its new CEO, the first time a woman was appointed as the head of a global automaker. It also comes after several months of rumors and speculation that Mulally was Microsoft's top choice to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. Shortly after Ford claimed that Mulally, Ford's CEO since 2006, was staying put, Microsoft announced that longtime employee Satya Nadella was taking over.

His appointment is no surprise in the auto industry — Jalopnik notes that Fields has been in line for the CEO position for some time and has been instrumental in the company's international operations.

Update April 21st, 2:55PM: Added statement from Ford.

Correction: Alan Mulally has been at Ford since 2006. This article originally stated he had been with Ford for 25 years.

Update May 1st, 9:01AM: Ford has announced that Alan Mullaly will be replaced by Mark Fields on July 1st.