New Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley in Dearborn, Michigan, the US, September 17 2020. Picture: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK
New Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley in Dearborn, Michigan, the US, September 17 2020. Picture: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK

Dearborn — Ford Motor’s new CEO Jim Farley wasted no time in his first day on the job by setting a tone of urgency and shaking up the vehicle maker’s management team.

Farley, who took over as CEO on Thursday from Jim Hackett, has said he is looking for fresh thinking to pull Ford out of a slump that it expects will lead to its first annual loss in a decade this year. He named John Lawler, a 30-year company veteran who has headed Ford’s autonomous-vehicles unit, as his new CFO, the carmaker said in a statement.

Farley said in the statement that his predecessor had “opened the door” to making Ford a “vibrant, profitably growing company. Now it’s time to charge through that door.”

Lawler immediately replaces Tim Stone, who served in that role for a little over a year and has accepted the CFO position at software company ASAPP, Ford said.

Farley laid out a plan to offer a full line-up of electric vehicles, add more “affordable” models, expand commercial-vehicle services to develop recurring revenue streams and create businesses using the self-driving system of its autonomous affiliate Argo AI.

He said he will allocate capital, resources and talent to Ford’s strongest businesses and hottest models. And he aims to put the company on sounder financial footing by targeting an 8% operating margin.

“We’re going to compete like a challenger,” Farley said.

The new CEO also plans to name new chief information and marketing officers, after the retirement of current CIO Jeff Lemmer on Jan. 1 and removal of CMO Joy Falotico, who will now focus on her other role of heading Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand.

Initial reaction from Wall Street was positive, with Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy, who has a “neutral” rating on the stock, praising Lawler as a “well-regarded Ford veteran” and expecting more disclosure from Farley on his turnaround plan.

“We believe Farley has challenges balancing near-term fixes with long-term secular” changes, Levy wrote in a research note, “yet brings a sense of urgency.”

Shares of Ford rose 0.7% to $6.70 in New York. The stock is down about 30% in 2020.

The leadership changes are accompanied by some shifts in Ford’s managerial structure, including the creation of three regional business units to oversee operations in China, Europe, and the US and the rest of the world.

Bloomberg

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