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Ford confirms management shakeups

Analysts say moves show Bill Ford Jr. is asserting control over company bureaucracy.

By Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News



Ford Motor Co., accelerating its turnaround efforts, confirmed a number of senior management changes Thursday, including the appointment of Anne Stevens to the post of executive vice president and chief operating officer for the company's Americas division.

"Anne is an exceptionally focused and proven leader in this industry," Mark Fields, president of the Americas division, said in a statement. "Her leadership of vehicle operations resulted in a significant quality improvement."

The appointment makes Stevens the highest-ranking female executive at Ford and one of the most powerful women in the global automotive industry. The company also confirmed the promotion of Derrick Kuzak to group vice president of product development for the Americas, David Szczupak to group vice president of manufacturing and Barb Samardzich to vice president of powertrain operations. Additionally, it confirmed the retirement of Roman Krygier, group vice president of global manufacturing.

Ford also named Joseph Hinrichs, current CEO of Ford Canada, as the new vice president of North American vehicle operations.

The moves are part of a major management shakeup that began when Fields was named president of the Americas division last month. Two senior executives, Matt DeMars and Phil Martens, resigned last week.

Analysts say the moves are evidence that Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr., with Fields at his side, is asserting his control over the company's bureaucracy.

"I have asked Mark Fields to do what's necessary to turn around our North American automotive operations," Ford said in a statement. "I fully expect the leadership team he has put in place today for the Americas will drive a turnaround and return a critical part of our business to a sustained level of profitability."

Analysts are taking a wait-and-see attitude to the changes, but all agree the automaker needs to do something to stop mounting losses and decline in market share.

"Ford is in the intolerable position of having too many plants and too many people," said David Healy, auto industry analyst with Burnham Securities Inc. "Cost cutting needs to come before the end of the year -- layoffs, plant closings, that sort of ugly stuff."

So far this year, Ford has trimmed white-collar jobs, suspended executive bonuses and consolidated its sales and marketing operations to lower costs.
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