Ford’s CFO Walking The Plank (F)

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In the climate of today, this may come as no real surprise.  Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has announced that CFO Don Leclair will retire November 1.  He will be replaced by Lewis Booth.  Leclair’s departure brings up some interesting questions.

Leclair is 56 years old and he has been CFO sinceAugust 2003. He first joined Ford back in 1976.  Despite a 32-year career, that is a rather young age to retire.  There was noofficial reason given for  this retirement, although Leclair was quotedas saying, "I have appreciated my time at Ford and now look forward tospending more time with my family and pursuing other interests."

Ford also today announced that John Fleming is appointed Executive VicePresident and Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, succeeding Lewis Booth.Fleming will assume responsibility for Ford of Europe, Volvo CarCorporation and Ford’s Export Operations & Global GrowthInitiatives.

Leclair was credited for a package in 2005 to 2006 which gave thetroubled automaker more time.  But the economy has helped FordMotor stock slide from $9.00+ over the last year all the way down to$2.15 today.  At some point enough is enough, for him and for thecompany.

Even if he wasn’t asked to walk, Leclair has probably reached the pointwhere the bleak outlook for the US auto sector has led him to decide he doesn’t want to take it any longer.  Sometimes walking the plank is the best way off the ship.  And sometimes it isn’t.

Jon C. Ogg
October 10, 2008