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Mulally chews the fat with Obama, other CEOs at White House lunch


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Mulally chews the fat with Obama, other CEOs at White House lunch

Ursula Zerilli

Automotive News -- July 1, 2010 - 4:26 pm ET

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, whose company led the Detroit 3 with a 27 percent U.S. sales gain during the first half of 2010, had lunch with President Barack Obama and other CEOs today at the White House.

The lunch was an effort to build relations with the business community for private-sector job creation and investment, a White House official said.

Ford also said today that June sales rose 13 percent to 175,690 vehicles. And yesterday, the automaker disclosed plans to reduce total debt by $4 billion.

"Obviously, it was an opportunity to update President Obama on Ford's progress on our plan and to emphasize the importance of manufacturing to U.S. competitiveness,” said Ford spokesman Mike Moran.

Obama has invited business leaders for lunch at the White House seven times since taking office.

Moran declined to give more details about the lunch discussion.

The White House said other executives at the lunch were Roger Ferguson, CEO of the teachers pension fund TIAA-CREF; Bob Iger, CEO of entertainment giant Walt Disney Co.; Brian Roberts, CEO of cable conglomerate Comcast Corp.; and Patricia Woertz, CEO of food producer Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100701/OEM02/100709988/1178#ixzz0sTDKJ4xV

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Ford CEO Mulally lunches with Obama

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally was among a group of business leaders that had lunch with President Barack Obama today at the White House.

Others in the lunch bunch included: Roger Ferguson, president & CEO, TIAA-CREF; Bob Iger, president & CEO of Walt Disney Co.; Brian Roberts, chairman & CEO, Comcast Corp.; and Patricia Woertz, chairman, president and CEO, ADM.

The CEOs were scheduled to eat in the Old Family Dining Room, but because the weather in Washington was beautiful, the group ate outside on the White House grounds.

Ford said the lunch was a chance to update the president on the company's business.

"Obviously, it was an opportunity to update President Obama on Ford's progress on our plan and to emphasize the importance of manufacturing to U.S. competitiveness," said Ford spokesman Mike Moran, declining to discuss specifics.

Obama has had seven lunches with business leaders during his nearly 18 months in office; Mulally is the first auto executive to take part.

One issue at the top of Ford's agenda in Washington: the Korea Free Trade agreement.

This week, Ford praised the White House's decision to work toward improving U.S. automakers' access to the South Korean market.

"Ford Motor Co. looks forward to working with the administration and Congress on an agreement that provides meaningful market access for our manufacturers that shows rapid growth of American-made automobiles sold in Korea, and that is enforceable," Ford said in a statement earlier this week.

In April 2007, the Bush administration signed a free trade agreement with Korea, but it stalled in the United States, primarily over concerns about U.S. beef and auto exports.

Obama, at the G-20 summit in Canada this weekend, said his administration will launch new talks with South Korea aimed at resolving those differences before he visits South Korea in November. He wants to submit an agreement to Congress soon thereafter.

Ford argued the South Korean government "has a long history of actively intervening in the market to exclude imports."

Obama, who owns a Ford Escape hybrid, has praised the Dearborn automaker, the lone member of the Big Three to avoid bankruptcy and decline a government bailout last year.

"By the way, I just want to mention, I think I still have my Ford parked in Chicago," Obama said in May 2009 at a Rose Garden event. "It's a Ford hybrid, it runs great; you guys should take a look."

Mulally may also tout more good news. Ford on Wednesday made a $4 billion cash payment to reduce its debt.

The automaker's U.S. sales are up more than 30 percent this year; the industry as a whole is up 17 percent.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100701/AUTO01/7010447/1148/auto01/Ford-CEO-Mulally-lunches-with-Obama#ixzz0sTND5Bmo

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