Ford Taps CFO as Jaguar’s Top Cat

After the death of Jaguar and Land Rover CEO Geoff Polites this weekend, David Smith is named acting chief as the operations' sale to Tata moves ah...
Stephen TaubApril 21, 2008

Ford Motor Co. named David Smith, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief financial officer, to be acting chief executive officer at Jaguar Land Rover.

He succeeds Geoff Polites, who died over the weekend in his home country of Australia at the age of 60.

Smith, a 25-year Ford veteran, will hold the top position until a successor is appointed, said Ford, which bought Jaguar for $2.5 billion in 1989 and Land Rover for $2.7 billion in 2000. Earlier this month Ford agreed to sell the Jaguar Ltd. and Land Rover Ltd. Lines to Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. for $2.3 billion.

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Polites had been credited with leading the team that returned the Jaguar Land Rover business back to profitability, and then successfully steering it through the sale process to Tata. The Associated Press said that Ford still expects to close the deal in the second quarter.

Smith, who holds an MA in Economics from Cambridge University and an MBA from Warwick University, has held numerous positions within Ford Finance since he joined Ford in 1983. In recent years he has worked in positions dealing with new markets and emerging markets. He was based in Turkey before joining Land Rover in July 2000 as director of finance.