Ford Motor Co. will soon name incumbent chief operating officer (COO) Mark Fields, 53, its next chief executive officer (CEO) after current CEO Alan Mulally, 68, retires before the end of the year. Rumors of the succession circulated in 2012, but were neither confirmed, nor denied.

According to Bloomberg, two people familiar with the pending announcement, who refused to be identified, said Mulally will be succeeded by Fields and that the company will officially announce the move as soon as May 1.

Ford is planning to make the announcement to provide clarity on its leadership and a smooth transition of power. Fields became the candidate to succeed Mulally when he was named as the company’s COO in December 2012.

Fields has been with Ford for 25 years and helped lead the auto company’s North American operations from major losses to record profits as COO.

Karl Brauer, an analyst, was quoted saying "Ford’s pending announcement is meant to make a statement that they are in control over the future of the auto company."

Executive Chairman Bill Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, wants to have a smooth transition between Mulally and Fields.

"One of the things Alan and I have talked about is how important it is for a great CEO also to have a great transition," Ford said on Bloomberg TV.

source: Bloomberg