DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Friday named top executive Jim Farley its chief operating officer, positioning him as potential heir to Chief Executive Officer Jim Hackett and shaking up its top management three days after a weak 2020 profit outlook.

Farley, president of new businesses, technology and strategy, has been viewed as one of the potential successors to Hackett, who took over in 2017. News of his promotion and another perceived rival’s retirement, effective on March 1, came in the same week the No. 2 U.S. automaker saw its shares slide following the disappointing forecast.

Ford is in the midst of a global restructuring as well as slumping demand in China, its second largest market. It said the changes come as it is “moving with urgency to fully integrate and accelerate its transformation.”

“Jim Farley is the right person to take on this important new role,” Hackett said in a statement. “Jim’s passion for great vehicles and his intense drive for results are well known. He also has developed into a transformational leader with the imagination and foresight to help lead Ford into the future.”

Farley, 57, joined Ford in 2007 as global head of marketing and sales and went on to lead Lincoln, South America, Ford of Europe and all of Ford’s global markets in successive roles.

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to work with Jim Hackett and the entire Ford team to advance our vision to design increasingly intelligent vehicles and connect them to the world around us, all to make life better for our customers and communities,” Farley said in the statement.

Ford also said Joe Hinrichs, president of automotive, will retire. Many employees and outside observers had seen him as a favorite to succeed Hackett, but the company had been criticized recently for a poor launch of its new Ford Explorer SUV and rising warranty costs.

Another executive, Hau Thai-Tang, 53, received additional responsibilities. He will continue to lead product development and purchasing, while adding responsibilities for enterprise product line management and connectivity. Thai-Tang will report to Farley.

Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by David Goodman, Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio


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