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WHEN: Today, Monday, May 22nd
WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk Alley"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" (M-F, 11AM-12PM ET) today, Monday, May 22nd. Following is a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000620671.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
CARL QUINTANILLA: BACK TO PHIL LeBEAU, WHO IS NOW WITH FORD'S EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, BILL FORD.
PHIL LEBEAU: THANK YOU, CARL. LET'S BRING IN BILL FORD FROM THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY HEADQUARTERS IN DEERBORN, MICHIGAN. THANKS FOR JOINING US ON A VERY BUSY DAY. LET'S START FIRST OFF WITH THE DECISION TO FIRE MARK FIELDS. WHY NOW, AND FOR HOW LONG HAD YOU AND THE OTHER BOARD MEMBERS BEEN DISCUSSING THE NEED TO REPLACE HIM AND BRING IN A NEW CEO?
BILL FORD: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I DIDN'T FIRE MARK. HE CHOSE TO RESIGN AFTER A DISCUSSION HE AND I HAD ON FRIDAY. I THINK THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT. BUT YOU KNOW, WE ONLY DECIDED ON FRIDAY THAT I WOULD GO AND TALK TO MARK, SO I DID AND WE REACHED THIS CONCLUSION AND THEN WE MOVED FORWARD WITH JIM HACKETT.
LEBEAU: SUSQUEHANNA CAPITAL, MATT STOVER THE ANALYST IS OUT WITH A NOTE TODAY, HE IS RAISING THE QUESTION THAT SO MANY PEOPLE ARE RAISING TODAY AND REALLY, YOU ARE THE PERSON WHO SHOULD ANSWER THIS BEING THE PERSON WHO SPEAKS MOST FOR THE FORD FAMILY. HOW MUCH OF THIS DECISION IS DRIVEN BY THE LOW STOCK PRICE AND THE FORD FAMILY SAYING ENOUGH, WE NEED THIS COMPANY TO DO BETTER?
FORD: WELL, YOU DON'T MAKE A DECISION LIKE THIS BASED ON THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. FRANKLY, THIS WAS A BOARD OF DIRECTORS DECISION, NOT A FORD FAMILY DECISION. BUT THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT ALL OF US WERE ACUTELY AWARE THAT THE STOCK HAS BEEN LANGUISHING. AND BUT ALSO, THAT THIS IS A TIME OF GREAT OPPORTUNITY AND GREAT CHANGE FOR US. AND WE NEED TO BE QUICKER IN OUR DECISION MAKING. WE NEED TO HAVE CLARITY IN OUR MESSAGING AND IN OUR COMMUNICATION, AND THAT'S SOMETHING -- WE ALSO NEED A LEADER WHO HAS TRANSFORMED A COMPANY BEFORE. YOU KNOW, JUST AS WHEN I BROUGHT IN ALAN MULALLY, HE WAS THE RIGHT MAN FOR THAT TIME. I BELIEVE IF YOU LOOK AT JIM HACKETT'S TRACK RECORD, YOU WILL SEE THAT THE TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP, YOU KNOW, WHEN HE RAN STEELCASE, THEY WEREN'T THE NUMBER ONE MANUFACTURER AND THEY DEFINED THEMSELVES AS A FURNITURE MANUFACTURER. HE SAID NO, LET'S REIMAGINE HOW THE WORK SPACE OF THE FUTURE'S GOING TO BE. HE DID THAT, GREW THE REVENUES AND TOOK THEM TO THE NUMBER ONE SPOT IN THE INDUSTRY. SO WE REALLY NEED THAT KIND OF LEADERSHIP IN THIS TIME OF GREAT CHANGE.
LEBEAU: YOU TALK ABOUT MOVING FASTER. TWO-PART QUESTION HERE. FIRST OF ALL, DID YOU CONVEY YOUR FRUSTRATION OR THE BOARD CONVEY ITS FRUSTRATION TO MARK AND THE OTHER EXECUTIVES AT THE COMPANY THAT YOU WEREN'T MOVING FAST ENOUGH, AND SECOND OF ALL, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT MOVING FASTER, DOES THAT MEAN HEY, WE NEED TO BE QUICKER ABOUT DECIDING CERTAIN PARTS OF THE BUSINESS ARE JUST NOT WORTH BEING IN ANYMORE, AND WE NEED TO EITHER SELL THEM OR SHUT THEM DOWN?
FORD: WELL, TO THE FIRST PART OF THE QUESTION, I REALLY WILL NEVER COMMENT ON ANY BOARD DISCUSSIONS. IT'S JUST NOT SOMETHING I WILL DO. BUT I WILL TELL YOU THAT YES, WE ARE TAKING A VERY HARD LOOK AT ALL THE PARTS OF OUR BUSINESS THAT CREATE VALUE AND THOSE THAT DON'T CREATE VALUE. AND THOSE THAT DON'T CREATE VALUE, WE CAN'T CONTINUE TO INVEST IN THEM.
LEBEAU: WE JUST HAD ON KARA SWISHER, WHO I KNOW YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH.
LEBEAU: SHE MADE A GOOD POINT THAT OUT IN THE SILICON VALLEY, FORD IS VIEWED AS BEING "ONE OF THE COMPANIES THAT'S REALLY NOT DOING A WHOLE LOT," DESPITE HOW HEAVILY YOU GUYS ARE INVESTING OUT THERE. GIVEN THAT AND GIVEN THE FACT THAT JIM HACKETT WAS IN CHARGE OF THE SMART MOBILITY BUSINESS, DO YOU REDOUBLE YOUR EFFORTS THERE, OR DO YOU SIT THERE AND SAY WE ONLY GIVE IT X AMOUNT OF TIME BEFORE WE HAVE TO MAKE SOME HARD DECISIONS ABOUT HOW MUCH FURTHER WE INVEST IN THINGS LIKE AUTONOMOUS DRIVE VEHICLES, ELECTRIC VEHICLES, ET CETERA?
FORD: WELL, NO, NO, NO. I MEAN I WOULD ARGUE THAT – I MEAN, THERE WAS A REPORT OUT LAST MONTH THAT SAID FORD WAS THE LEADER IN AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES. A GROUP THAT HAD STUDIED THE WHOLE AV FRONT AND CAME OUT AND SAID WE WERE FURTHEST AHEAD. LOOK, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON AVs FOR TEN YEARS. WE FORMED ARGO AI, WHICH WAS A KEY PLAYER FROM GOOGLE AND A KEY PLAYER FROM UBER, AND THEY HAVE NOW RAMPED UP AND ARE – BUT WE ARE JUST NOT TALKING PUBLICLY AS MUCH AS SOME COMPANIES. PARTLY, WE DON'T WANT TO TIP OUR HAND AND PARTLY BECAUSE WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WHEN WE DO, OUR MESSAGING IS VERY CRISP. I FEEL ACTUALLY VERY GOOD ABOUT WHAT WE'RE DOING. AND IF YOU LOOK AT FORD SMART MOBILITY DIDN'T EXIST JUST OVER A YEAR AGO. JIM HACKETT CAME IN, STARTED IT. WE BOUGHT CHARIOT, THERE WERE SIX PEOPLE. NOW WE ARE ROLLING IT OUT AROUND THE WORLD. IT'S GROWING TREMENDOUSLY. WE ARE BUILDING OTHER SERVICES THAT WE HAVEN'T GONE PUBLIC WITH, WHICH WE WILL AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE. SO I'M ACTUALLY VERY PLEASED WITH THE PROGRESS WE'RE MAKING. BUT YOU KNOW, THERE'S ALWAYS MORE TO DO AND SPEED IS IMPORTANT.
LEBEAU: SO WILL WE BE HEARING MORE IN TERMS OF MORE BENCHMARK TARGETS IN TERMS OF SAYING THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE AND THIS IS WHAT WE WILL PRODUCE?
FORD: WE WILL, BUT WE ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE READY TO TALK ABOUT IT. IT'S EASY TO – A LOT OF COMPANIES THROW OUT THESE BIG STATEMENTS AND THEN YEARS LATER WHEN THEY DON'T COME TO PASS, THEY KIND OF SHRUG AND I THINK CREDIBILITY IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THIS. SO WE WANT TO SIGNAL WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE WANT TO PUT SOME SPECIFICITY OUT THERE. BUT WE ALSO DON'T WANT TO NECESSARILY TIP OUR HAND COMPETITIVELY ON ALL THE THINGS WE'RE DOING, EITHER.
LEBEAU: LAST QUESTION, BILL. JIM HACKETT WAS TALKING DURING THE TOWN HALL JUST A FEW MINUTES AGO ABOUT A BETTER VISION FOR THE COMPANY, ALMOST A SECOND VERSION OF ONE FORD, NOT ONE FORD BEING REBRANDED, BUT STREAMLINING THE COMPANY, IF YOU WILL. DO YOU EXPECT THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE A LEANER COMPANY UNDER JIM HACKETT?
FORD: I REALLY THINK THAT OUR ENTIRE COMPANY NEEDS TO REALLY LOOK AT – IT'S INTERESTING, PHIL. IF YOU LOOK AT KIND OF THE OLD MODEL WAS FORD SMART MOBILITY WAS GOING TO BE THE INNOVATION ENGINE OF THE COMPANY, BUT ONE OF THE THINGS JIM AND I TALKED ABOUT IS THE ENTIRE COMPANY NEEDS INNOVATION. IF YOU LOOK AT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, 3D PRINTING, ROBOTICS, DEEP LEARNING, ALL THESE THINGS THAT ARE EITHER HERE OR COMING AT US, THEY CAN PROFOUNDLY HELP CHANGE ALL PARTS OF OUR BUSINESS. AND THAT'S WHY YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HEAR US TALKING ANYMORE ABOUT THE EMERGING AND THE CORE. IT'S REALLY ALL ONE FORD MOTOR COMPANY AND IT'S ONE FORD MOTOR COMPANY THAT NEEDS TO EMBRACE CHANGE.
LEBEAU: BILL FORD, THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY, JOINING US FROM THE COMPANY'S HEADQUARTERS IN DEERBORN, MICHIGAN FIRST ON CNBC. GUYS, YOU HEARD IT FROM BILL HIMSELF SAYING THAT THEY NEED TO MOVE FASTER. THIS IS A COMPANY THAT, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, NEEDS TO REINVENT ITSELF. LET'S SEE WHAT KIND OF RESULTS WE SEE FROM FORD ON THAT FRONT AND WHAT IT MEANS TO THE STOCK PRICE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE QUARTERS.
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