Ford Sends Clearest Signal Yet Farley Will Be Next CEO

(Bloomberg) -- If Ford Motor Co.’s new Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley doesn’t rise to become the company’s top executive, it will be a soft landing.

In an unusual move, Ford’s board of directors this week granted Farley $2.5 million in unrestricted company stock if he is not named the next chief executive officer, succeeding Jim Hackett, it said in a regulatory filing.

“In the event an individual other than Mr. Farley is elected as successor to James P. Hackett as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford, a stock grant with a value of $2.5 million in unrestricted shares of Ford common stock will be made,” the company said. “If Mr. Farley is offered the position of President and Chief Executive Officer and he declines such offer, the stock grant will not be made.”

The board took the action to provide “a long-term incentive for a highly accomplished, highly regarded executive who’s playing a major role in transforming Ford,” T.R. Reid, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement.

Farley already received a raise of nearly $2 million after besting rival Joe Hinrichs in a management shakeup Hackett made last month to accelerate the plodding pace of an $11 billion restructuring. Ford’s stock has plunged to its lowest since the Great Recession after the automaker posted dismal earnings and issued a disappointing forecast.

In an address to Wall Street analysts last month, Farley made an impassioned pledge to revive the automaker.

“Everyone at Ford knows the situation we’re in,” Farley said at a Wolfe Research conference in New York. “I can see it on the faces of my colleagues and it takes me back to about 10 years ago. I’ve seen the look before.”

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