Elop, Mulally Said to Make Microsoft CEO Shortlist

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) is reportedly one step closer to choosing the company's next Chief Executive Officer.

The shortlist of possible replacements for Steve Ballmer include three internal candidates: former Microsoft exec/ Nokia ( NOK) boss Stephen Elop, former Skype leader Tony Bates who currently heads Microsoft business development, the current Microsoft cloud division Executive VP. Satya Nadella and often mentioned Ford's ( F) CEO Alan Mulally, Reuters reported today.

Another name which may have made the the cut of five possible candidate is Mike Lawrie CEO of New York-based  Computer Science Corporation  ( CSC), Reuters said. 

Microsoft shares were gaining 2.9% to $37.69.

In August, Steve Ballmer announces his retirement from Microsoft with a year. Ballmer has run the company since 2000. Ballmer made his intentions known one month after instituting a major reorganization to help the technology giant compete in a world where PCs are no longer the main industry thrust.

In the past, Elop had worked for Lotus Development, Macromedia before it was acquired by Adobe ( ADBE), Boston Chicken (now Boston Market) and Juniper Networks ( JNPR) before heading Microsoft's business division (including Microsoft's Office software suite) from January 2008 to September, 2010. Then as CEO of Nokia he forged a deal with Microsoft to drop other smartphone projects in favor of producing Windows Phones.

Bates has been with Microsoft since it acquired Skype two years ago. Nadella had worked for Sun Microsystems (now Oracle ( ORCL)) before joining Microsoft in 1992.

Mulally has been President and CEO of Ford since September, 2006. He is credited with helping the company reverse its fortunes without having to ask for a government bailout. Before Ford, Mulally had been employed by Boeing ( BA) from 1969 working his way up from engineer to vice president and general manager.

Microsoft has declined to officially comment on the process of choosing a new corporate CEO or any discussion of any possible candidates.

A Ford spokesperson told Reuters that as far as they were concerned Mulally will be staying where he is:

"There is no change from what we announced last November. Alan remains fully focused on continuing to make progress on our One Ford plan. We do not engage in speculation."

Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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