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Lewis Booth, Ford Motor Co.’s chief financial officer, plans to retire in the first half of this year, clearing the way for Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally to step up efforts to groom the next CEO, according to two people familiar with the plan.

Mulally, 66, will probably retire around the end of 2013 and Booth’s departure gives him the opportunity to name a new No. 2 executive who could be trained as the next CEO, most likely Mark Fields, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified disclosing private plans. Fields, 50, runs operations in North America and South America. Booth, 63, has been Mulally’s de facto second in command, the only other executive with a global view of worldwide operations, said the people.

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