Ford CFO Don Leclair Retires

His replacement is longtime company Ford of Europe chief Lewis Booth.
Stephen TaubOctober 10, 2008

Ford Motor Co. announced that CFO Don Leclair, 56, will retire November 1. His replacement will be executive vice president Lewis Booth, who is chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe and also responsible for Volvo Car Corp. and Ford Export Operations & Global Growth Initiatives.

Ford credited Booth with playing a leading role in the successful transformations of Ford of Europe and Mazda during the past decade.

Leclair, 56, joined Ford in 1976 and was appointed CFO in August 2003.

“Don’s expertise and business acumen have been invaluable to Ford,” said CEO Alan Mulally. “Under his leadership, Ford has made significant progress in lowering costs, improving quality, improving efficiency, divesting non-core assets, improving our balance sheet, and moving us to our One Ford.”

Ford’s stock surged more than 5 percent today even as the major market averages plummeted yet again.

“Lewis Booth is one of the strongest and most experienced leaders within Ford and the auto industry,” Mulally said. “He has built a strong and successful team in Ford of Europe that is well positioned to continue the momentum. And he has put in place new leadership at Volvo to turn around its results and build the strength of this premium brand.”

He added that the company is counting on Lewis to apply his extensive operational and financial experience to help accelerate the transition to its One Ford vision and, in the process, transform Ford into a lean global enterprise and returning the company to sustainable profitability.

Ford also promoted John Fleming to executive vice president and to succeed both as chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. He also will assume responsibility for Volvo and the Export Operations & Global Growth Initiatives unit.

Booth formerly was responsible for the Premier Automotive Group. He joined Ford of Europe in 1978 as a financial analyst.

During his career, he has had a series of other senior leadership positions around the world, at Ford Asia Pacific, Ford South Africa, Mazda, and Ford’s finance, truck operations, product development, manufacturing and sales operations in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Booth will certainly have his hands full. Ford and other car companies throughout the world are facing the prospect of a major slowdown in business. On Thursday, Standard & Poor’s warned it may drop its ratings on Ford and GM even deeper into junk territory.