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Ford's Mulally brushes off Microsoft CEO chatter

As the search for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's replacement continues, one of the top rumored candidates says he "plans to continue serving Ford."

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is said to be one of the top candidates to replace Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. CBS News

It appears one of the top rumored contenders to replace Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's CEO may be out of the running... or is he? Ford CEO Alan Mulally said on Tuesday that he plans to continue working at the car manufacturer, but he didn't flat out deny a move to Microsoft.

"I love serving Ford and have nothing new to add to (my) plans to continue serving Ford," Mulally told USA Today in an exclusive interview.

While the Ford CEO did make clear he is happy with his current position, he didn't rule out working at Microsoft in the future. Mulally has said he intends to stay at Ford through 2014, but the car company's board of directors won't stop him if he decides to leave earlier, according to USA Today.

Ballmer announced in August that he would be stepping down as CEO within the next 12 months -- once a replacement is found who will carry out Microsoft's new vision of offering devices and services, not just software. The company's board has formed a special committee to seek out potential candidates and has been narrowing down its list of possible successors.

Soon after Ballmer's announcement, Microsoft bought Nokia for $7.2 billion, which made that company's chief executive, Stephen Elop, another top contender for CEO of the software giant. Other rumored candidates include Microsoft Executive VP Tony Bates, who had previously been CEO of Skype, Computer Sciences CEO Mike Lawrie, former Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky, and former Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson.

Mulally has been Ford's CEO for seven years and has earned kudos for a restructuring plan that helped return the carmaker to profitability. When his name was first floated as a potential candidate, it seemed like the executive wasn't too interested in the post. But, recent reports have indicated that Mulally could be having a change of heart.