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Microsoft CEO search narrowed - Report

Xbox maker reportedly winnows down list to handful of potential replacements for Steve Ballmer, including Ford CEO and former Nokia CEO.

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Microsoft's list of external candidates to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has been narrowed to about five people, Reuters reported today, citing sources familiar with the matter.

These include the reported frontunner Ford CEO Alan Mulally and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who joined Microsoft when the company purchased the handset maker's mobile business for $7.2 billion in September.

Microsoft is also considering at least three internal candidates for the position, including former Skype CEO Tony Bates and EVP of cloud and enterprise Satya Nadella, according to the report.

Reuters reports that Microsoft began its search for Ballmer's replacement, with the help of an executive recruiting team, with about 40 names in mind. It is unclear how far along negotiations are or when an official announcement will be made.

In August, Ballmer said he would retire within the space of 12 months, but not before his successor was named. Reuters said today that the process could take a "few more months," though a past report indicated Microsoft plans to complete the process before the end of the year.

The Xbox One launches in just over two weeks on November 22 for $500.

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