Ford CEO Alan Mulally, seeking to end speculation over a possible move to Microsoft, told the Associated Press on Monday that he will not become the software company's next CEO.
There had been rumors that the 68-year-old chief executive was on the short list to succeed Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.
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"I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford," Mulally said in an interview.
That is, at least until 2014. Ford announced a plan in 2012 that would keep Mulally in his position as CEO through the end of next year, the AP reported.
Mulally is sticking with the plan to stay with Ford at least through the end of 2014, he told the AP. He didn't say whether he talked to Microsoft about becoming CEO, but he said the speculation was a distraction for the car company.
Microsoft announced this past August that Ballmer would be retiring in the next 12 months, in a surprising move just weeks after the executive crafted a business reorganization strategy. Since then, questions have swirled over who would replace him.
Besides Mulally, other possible candidates named have included IT industry executives, many of whom are current or former high-ranking Microsoft executives. Among them: Satya Nadella, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise Division; Kevin Turner, the company's chief operating officer; and Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO and former division president at Microsoft.
Outsider names have included Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, and Jon Rubinstein, who was CEO of Palm before it was sold to HP.
Microsoft's new CEO will face tough challenges to turn around the company, which has seen its strength diminish as software and hardware makers including Apple and Google have grown.
Ballmer has been at Microsoft since 1980 and has been CEO since 2000.