Don Winkler, the head of Ford Motor Co. credit division, resigned Friday, the automaker announced.

The move came less than two weeks after Ford said it expected to report a greater-than-expected fourth quarter loss, in part because it was boosting its credit loss reserves.

Don Winkler, 53, was chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Financial and also was a group vice president at Ford. He joined the company in October 1999 as chairman and CEO of Ford Credit.

Ford vice president Greg Smith, president and chief operating officer of Ford Financial, will take over responsibility.

A Ford spokeswoman would not say what prompted Winkler's resignation, which is effective immediately.

"It was a mutual decision between Don Winkler and Ford Motor Company," Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari said.

Ford said Dec. 5 that it expected to report a loss of 50 cents per share, before one-time items, for the last three months of the year. Chief financial officer Martin Inglis said deteriorating economic conditions were leaving more motorists unable to pay their car loans.

Some analysts said that Ford's credit unit had made poor policy decisions that contributed to the automaker's financial predicament.

The news was released after regular trading had finished Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, where shares of Ford fell 7 cents to $16.10.