Ford Shuffles Top Management

By BridgeNews Ford Motor Co. announced several upper management changes July 12. The automaker appointed Nick Scheele as group vice president of North America and Martin Inglis as CFO. "These moves reflect the depth of our leadership team," Jacques Nasser, president and chief executive of Ford, said in a prepared statement. "We're strengthening the Consumer Business Group structure by better deploying the talents of our top executives." Published reports suggested that Ford would make the changes due to pending retirements of Vice Chairman Wayne Booker and current CFO Henry Wallace. Wallace, however, instead will become group vice president of Mazda and Ford Asia Pacific. Booker will retire at the end of the year. Scheele, named vice president of North America, has been the Ford of Europe leader since January 1999. He is credited for turning around Jaguar while he was chairman of the group from 1992 to 1999. Replacing Scheele in Europe is David Thursfield, who will remain CEO and president of Ford of Europe. Scheele replaces Inglis, who will take Ford's chief financial officer post. Richard Parry-Jones was named chief technical officer and will continue as group vice president of product development. Don Winkler will become a group vice president of Ford and will continue as chairman of Ford Financial. Greg Smith was named vice president of Ford and COO of Ford Financial. Other appointments include Jim Padilla, who becomes group vice president of manufacturing and quality. Kathleen Ligocki was appointed to vice president of Canada, Mexico, and North America strategy. Shamel Rushwin was named to vice president, North America business operations. Anne Stevens was appointed vice president, North America vehicle operations. Ford insists the changes did not come as a result of questions about quality in its products or the controversy from replacing 13 million Firestone tires on its vehicles. "A company of this size, there's a natural evolution in its management structure," says Anne Marie Gattari, Ford spokeswoman. Richard Hilgert, auto analyst for Fahnestock and Co., said Inglis being named CFO is a chance for him to learn more about the company's corporate finance. "The move for Martin Inglis to CFO seems to be a grooming move where he is being acclimated to different areas of the business," he says. Moving Scheele to headquarters in Dearborn brings the man who went through recent cost-cutting and restructuring actions in Europe to the automaker's largest market, Hilgert says. The management changes also may help bring about change in a time when the company has been mired in controversy. "When you have an organization that has had some degree of difficulty or issues internally, a management change tends to unfreeze the culture in order to make changes more acceptable within the organization," Hilgert says. The moves probably will not make a big impact on Wall Street, Hilgert said.

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