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Ford to replace CEO Mark Fields as share prices head in ‘wrong direction’

Ford is expected to announce the replacement of its chief executive Mark Fields later today as the manufacturer's share prices head in “the wrong direction”.

The Financial Times reported that the US automotive giant was set to make a statement about the move - likely to come as part of a wider shake-up of senior executives - later today.

Ford is said to be taking the action amid concerns the car company is falling behind rivals in developing autonomous and electric vehicles.

Jim Hackett, who has been heading-up Ford’s work on autonomous vehicles, is said to be stepping in to the CEO role.

Europe, Middle East and Africa president Jim Farley, and Americas director Joe Hinrichs are also expected to assume larger roles, according to the FT.

Christian Stadler, a Professor of Strategy and researches the car industry at Warwick Business School, said: "Ford’s replacement of the CEO is unnecessary. The company was actually doing quite well in terms of profits. Only the share price was going in the wrong direction.

“This is obviously not a small point, but more of a reflection of unrealistic expectations. Fields was expected to turn a traditional car manufacturer into a mobility company matching the evaluation of such companies.

"Ford has no plausible approach towards mobility and e-vehicles yet and lags behind GM in that respect, but the crucial point is that changing the CEO is not likely to change this. Ford falls into the trap of betting too much on one individual.

"Fields was also in a difficult position following celebrated CEO Alan Mulally who is credited with the turnaround of Ford, saving it from bankruptcy. Any successor would have struggled to meet expectation after that.

"A new CEO is not likely to make a substantial difference in terms of fundamentals. In the short-term the likely successor Jim Hackett – the head of the mobility unit – could have a positive impact on the share price as he is a signal that this is the area the company wants to focus on.

"In the longer run Hackett will face the same challenges, ie Ford needs to make substantial progress in terms of self-driving cars and e-vehicles. He might do that well, but Fields would probably have taken similar steps."

Initial reports of Ford’s likely replacement of Fields first appeared in Forbes Magazine, two weeks after he received criticism amid the manufacturer’s worsening financial results.

Ford's first-quarter profit fell $900 million to $1.6 billion year-on-year.

Just last week the brand also announced that it would cut 1,400 jobs in a bid to save $3 billion in costs this year.

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