Ford replaces CEO in push to transform business

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Ford Motor Co. is replacing embattled Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields with Jim Hackett, a turnaround specialist who has been leading the automaker's moves into self-driving cars and ride sharing, according to a person familiar with the move.

Ford is expected to make an official announcement when the New York Stock Exchange opens today at 9.30am Eastern.

According to several reports, the move is due to the automaker's recent disappointing profits and stock price, which has dropped almost 40 percent since Fields took over in 2014.

The change came less than two weeks after Fields was sharply criticised during Ford's annual shareholders meeting for the company's deteriorating financial results.

Ford posted a record $1.2 billion European profit past year but warned the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European union would put a dent in 2017 earnings.

Fields had outlined a variety of initiatives to confront challenges from technology companies such as Alphabet Inc that want to control a future of autonomous, data intensive vehicles.

Directors were increasingly alarmed by the collapse of Ford's business operations, despite larger profits from the company's F-Series pickups truck range. Hackett has led Ford's mobility unit since previous year.

Hackett led Steelcase Inc.'s turnaround to become the world's No. 1 office furniture maker, served as interim Athletic Director at University of MI and has led Ford Smart Mobility LLC since March 2016. "I have developed a deep appreciation for Ford's people, values and heritage during the past four years as part of the company and look forward to working together with everyone tied to Ford during this transformative period". Hackett joined Ford's board in 2013, and has led the company's mobility unit since previous year.

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"Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities", Fields said in a release.

"These are really unparalleled times, and it really requires transformational leadership during these times", Bill Ford said.

Hackett will have to placate investors anxious about Ford's sliding US market share and product decisions. Ford continues to make small cars even though they're unprofitable and not in demand as buyers around the world gravitate to SUVs.

Fields has been unable to impress the automaker's board and investors with plans for reversing Ford's fortunes.

Ford's auto sales are down 25 per cent this year - far more than the overall industry decline in the vehicle segment - and it is making little, if any, money on the cars it does sell.

Hackett is confident he can placate Wall Street. Jim Farley, Ford of Europe chief since January 2015, is set to move to oversee Ford's regions, global marketing and sales, as well as its Lincoln Motor Co, the sources said.

Among his bets on technology is a plan to invest $1 billion over the next five years in tech startup Argo AI.