Ford CEO Hackett to retire, COO Jim Farley to lead automaker

In this file photo Ford Motor Company President and CEO Jim Hackett speaks during a keynote address during CES 2018 in Las Vegas on January 9, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Ford CEO Hackett to retire, COO Jim Farley to lead automaker

  • Just after the change was announced Tuesday morning, Ford shares rose 2.9 percent to $6.88 in early trading

Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley will lead the storied automaker into the future starting Oct. 1 when current CEO Jim Hackett retires.
The company has struggled in recent years and is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan designed to make it leaner and crank out new vehicles to replace what was an aging model lineup.
As COO, the 58-year-old Farley led the company’s global markets and product development. He was in charge as Ford rolled out a revamped F-150 pickup, the new Bronco off-road SUV brand and the electric Mustang Mach-E SUV.
Farley was hired away from Toyota by then-CEO Alan Mulally in November of 2007 to run Ford’s marketing operations.
The 65-year-old Hackett took over for the ousted Mark Fields in May of 2017. Almost immediately he began reviewing Ford’s management structure and flattened the organization so it could move faster. But his often lengthy directives confused employees who weren’t clear on where the company was headed.
Hackett, a retired Steelcase CEO who had run Ford’s mobility efforts, will stay on as an adviser to Farley through March of 2021.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, praised Hackett for modernizing the company and reducing bureaucracy.
“We now have compelling plans for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as full vehicle connectivity. And we are becoming much more nimble,” Ford said. He cited Ford’s quick shift to make ventilators, face shields and other protective equipment to help alleviate shortages at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was apparent that Farley would take over as CEO in February, when Ford announced a management shake-up after a poor fourth quarter financial performance and the botched launch of the Explorer SUV.
Farley’s chief rival, automotive President Joe Hinrichs was pushed out and retired effective March 1, and Farley was named chief operating officer.
Ford’s full-year profit plunged last year by more than $3.6 billion, and it lost $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter. Hackett said the company fell short of expectations for the year, and he blamed the performance largely on the flubbed launch of the new Explorer at a factory in Chicago.
New Explorers came off the assembly line with multiple problems and had to be shipped to a Detroit-area factory for repairs, delaying deliveries to customers and costing the company sales.
Since then the company has focused on making its new product changes simpler and easier to manufacture.
Just after the change was announced Tuesday morning, Ford shares rose 2.9 percent to $6.88 in early trading.


Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

Updated 21 September 2020

Bailout will keep Air France-KLM afloat for less than year: CEO

  • ‘If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected’
  • Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments

PARIS: Bailouts provided to Air France-KLM by the French and Dutch governments will keep the airline flying less than a year, its CEO Benjamin Smith said Monday and evoked the possibility of injecting new capital.
In an interview with the French daily l’Opinion, Smith also warned that calls for airlines to contribute more to fight climate change could be catastrophic for their survival which is already under threat due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When countries imposed lockdowns earlier this year to stem the spread of the coronavirus airlines faced steep drops in revenue that have claimed several carriers.
A number of countries stepped in with support, including France which provided $8.2 billion to Air France and the Netherlands which received a $2.9 billion package.
“This support will permit us to hold on less than 12 months,” said Smith.
The reason is that air traffic is picking up very slowly as many northern hemisphere countries are now fearing a second wave of infections.
“If we base it upon the past few weeks, it is clear that the recovery in traffic will be slower than expected,” according to Smith, who said when the bailout was put together the airline was expecting a return to 2019 levels only in 2024.
Smith said discussions were already underway with shareholders on shoring up the airline group, and steps would be taken before the next regular annual meeting in the second quarter of next year.
“One, three or five billion euros? It is too early to put a figure on a possible recapitalization,” he said.
The airline group had $12.12 billion in cash or available under credit lines.
Major shareholders include the French government with a 14.3 percent stake, the Dutch government at 14 percent, as well as Delta and China Eastern airlines which each hold an 8 percent stake.
Governments are coming under pressure to tie airline bailouts to environmental commitments.
One proposal that has come from a citizen’s convention convoked by President Emmanuel Macron would cost airlines an estimated $3.6 billion.
Smith said the imposition of environmental charges on the industry would be “irresponsible and catastrophic” for Air France-KLM.