A person close to the company says Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques A. Nasser will probably be out of a job by the end of the year, The New York Times reports today.
It’s not the first time such rumors have swirled around Mr. Nasser, whose last 12 months at the Ford helm have been rocky.
A Ford spokesman waved off the latest report of Mr. Nasser’s imminent departure.
"We wouldn't speculate on bogus speculation," says Jason Vines, Ford's communications director. "Ten years from now, when Jacques decides to retire, some will say, `I told you so.’"
Other officials close to the company's operations did not discount the possibility of Mr. Nasser's departure, though none would confirm it, according to the Times.
The suggestion was first posted last night on Forbes.com, the Web site for Forbes magazine.
Mr. Nasser, 53, has been under intense pressure as Ford's struggles have intensified. He was Ford’s point man in one of the bitterest corporate battles in memory, a feud with the Bridgestone/Firestone Company over the part Firestone tires played in rollovers of Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.
He has faced an erosion of sales and market share as the economy has weakened and as the company, like the other members of the Big Three, has come under pressure from foreign automakers.
Shares of Ford have declined steadily in the last few months. They were as high as $31.3574 on April 17. They closed at $17.73 yesterday.
Ford announced today that it lost $692 million during the third quarter. It's the first time Ford had posted a back-to-back quarterly loss since 1992.
Then there’s the question of his relations with an important person – William Clay Ford Jr., Ford Motor Co.’s chairman and great-grandson of Henry Ford – and an important group – Ford dealers.
Mr. Ford recently became more actively involved in the company’s day-to-day operations. That happened after he complained that he was being kept out of the loop. He seemed to tacitly blame Mr. Nasser for that.
It prompted Mr. Nasser to say recently, “There have been a lot of reports recently on management changes, and I think that was code for me leaving. We don’t know where they came from. Bill (Ford) and I have a great partnership.”
Meanwhile, Ralph Seekins, the incoming chairman of the Ford Division National Dealers Council, in a private memo to company headquarters criticized Mr. Nasser, whom many dealers consider “aloof” and “arrogant.”
Mr. Seekins tells Ward’s Dealer Business that the memo was based on his conversation with several Ford dealers. He says Ford management requested it in an effort to mend its strained relations with dealers.
Many Ford dealers are miffed by several Ford initiatives of late, including the Blue Oval certification program, a failed experiment in owning dealerships, and Ford's foray into e-commerce which many dealers see as a turf invasion. The dealers blame Mr. Nasser for fostering those programs. They also blame him as the guy in charge of an automaker that has been beset with several product recalls, especially of newly launched vehicles.
Mr. Nasser also sparked controversy -- and job discrimination lawsuits -- when he ordered a new performance rating system for white-collar employees. Critics claim the new system seemed rigged to force out older white employees in an effort to make way for younger employees of more diverse backgrounds. Ford subsequently backed off the disputatious job evaluations as court action loomed.