Mulally move to Microsoft seems much less likely: Pro
Ford CEO Alan Mulally appears less likely to become the next chief executive at Microsoft as the software company seeks "dark horse" candidates from Silicon Valley rather than Detroit, Nomura's Rick Sherlund told CNBC on Wednesday.
Sherlund, head of technology equity research at Nomura, cited a blog post published Tuesday from Microsoft board member John Thompson reiterating founder Bill Gates' statement that the chief executive was "a complex role to fill, involving a complex business model and the ability to lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent."
Thompson said he expected the board to finish its search in early 2014, and his statement leaves Sherlund less confident that Mulally would head for Microsoft after Ford.
"Just reading between the lines, ... [it] implies that maybe the dynamics of the board are shifting from just a good general manager who could help enhance shareholder value and can work with technical people who could fix the business," Sherlund said on "Squawk on the Street." "It seems to me that perhaps Bill Gates is digging in his heels now and saying, 'We want technical leadership.'"
(Read more: Microsoft expects early 2014 CEO choice)
Wall Street would most likely prefer a proven, all-purpose manager such as Mulally rather than someone with a technical background, such as former Microsoft and VMware executive Paul Maritz, Sherlund said. According to Reuters, sources familiar with the selection process said Microsoft had whittled down the search to a "handful of candidates," including Mulally, one outside candidate from the tech industry, and one or two internal candidates.
(Read more: Surprise! Qualcomm names new CEO and president)
"The concern would be that you get a good technical person who maybe isn't as focused on shareholder value," Sherlund said. "So there's a real trade-off here. The technical people that you might appeal to in Silicon Valley haven't run a business with 130,000 employees and executed a turnaround."
Microsoft's stock has seen a 30-percent increase in the past year. However, closing out the end of the year without naming a successor to CEO Steve Ballmer makes it an "awkward time" for investors. As of Wednesday afternoon, however, the stock was down 1.5 percent.
"Some investors are going to say, 'There's more uncertainty here. Why do I want to wait around and see what happens,'" Sherlund said. "If Mulally or someone who the Street feels really good about came in, the stock's up probably have 10, 15 percent pretty quickly."
Sherlund said he doesn't see Ballmer staying on the board if members choose a chief executive who wants to shake up the company.
"You're going to replace a Ballmer and want to make some change," Sherlund said. "I don't think that's a pleasant experience for Ballmer to remain on the board when everyone is changing everything you are doing."
— By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at
@jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street"