<!--:es-->FORD CEO says open to ceding top job: report<!--:-->

FORD CEO says open to ceding top job: report

FRANKFURT – Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Bill Ford Jr is prepared to let someone else lead the carmaker his great-grandfather founded should the right manager be available, he said in a magazine interview.

“I’m always looking to bring talent into this company. If I can find somebody — I thought Carlos (Ghosn) was an exceptionally talented executive who could help the company — I’ll go get him. That is regardless of the position,” Ford told Newsweek in an interview posted on the magazine’s website.

Asked if that applied to his own job as well, Ford replied: “Absolutely.”

Ford was referring to past efforts to lure Ghosn, who is chief executive of alliance partners Renault (RENA.PA) of France and Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) of Japan, to work for the number two U.S. carmaker, which is struggling to handle losses in North America.

Renault and Nissan are in talks with General Motors now about joining forces in a three-way alliance. They have set a deadline of mid-October to decide whether to proceed.

Asked why he had approached Ghosn about forming an alliance with Ford, Bill Ford said: “I talk to Carlos all the time, but I’m not going to comment on that.”

Media reports have said Ford called Ghosn to discuss an alliance should the GM talks fail.

Bill Ford said his top priority was guiding Ford back to profit in North America — where high fuel prices have crimped demand for Ford’s sport utility vehicles and light trucks — and not to recruit a new CEO.

“I’m not looking to replace myself. I’m looking to make sure the company is stocked with talent. But look, right now I’m focused on getting the North American operations back on track. That’s where my energy and time is going. That’s my passion.”

He said he would always be part of the company given family ties. The Ford family has 40 percent of the voting rights.