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Ford's Alan Mulally for Microsoft? CEO mum on move

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
October 21, 2013 -- Updated 1110 GMT (1910 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alan Mulally: Wouldn't comment on reports he is a top contender as Microsoft CEO
  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced in August he would soon retire
  • Mulally, a former top Boeing executive, is credited with turning around Ford

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Alan Mulally has vaulted to the top of the list of potential contenders to replace outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but the Ford CEO demurred when asked about the speculation Monday.

"I'm very, very happy serving at Ford. We have no plans that are different than that. And also we don't comment on speculation," said Mulally, who was in the city to launch Ford's new LPG-powered Transit Connect to compete in the Hong Kong taxi market.

Since Ballmer announced in August his plans to retire, Mulally's name has risen to the top of a list that also includes former Nokia chief Stephen Elop. Microsoft announced a deal last month to purchase Nokia's mobile phone business.

Mulally was poached from Boeing Inc. in Seattle in 2006 to lead America's second largest car company. He is widely credited with leading a turnaround of the company, which avoided bankruptcy and bailout in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

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Ford's Mulally tops Microsoft wish list -- report

Mulally, 68, is expected to remain as Ford CEO until the end of 2014, the company announced last year.

Ford's Hong Kong taxi launch is part of the company's China strategy, a market which the company has seen climb 51% in sales in the first three quarters of this year.

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"China is a tremendous growth region," Mulally told CNN's Patricia Wu. "It's already nearly 20 million units (in total sales) this year -- that's compared to like 16 million in the United States and 13.5 in Europe."

Ford sold nearly 650,000 units in China from January through September, catching up with Japanese competitors Toyota and Honda. The company still lags behind General Motors and Volkswagen, which had sales of 2.85 million and 2.35 million, respectively, in the first three quarters of this year.

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