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GM moves Cadillac chief Ferguson back to chief lobbying role

Ferguson has been spending much of his time since mid-March in Washington to help steer GM's response to its ignition switch recall.

DETROIT -- General Motors today said the head of its Cadillac brand, Bob Ferguson, would return to his previous position as the automaker’s top government lobbyist, effective immediately.

Ferguson, who was head of public policy from 2010 until moving to Cadillac in October 2012, already had been spending much of his time since mid-March in Washington, helping to steer GM’s response to its ignition switch recall. He had been expected to return to the public policy job full time, Automotive News reported in June.

GM said it would name a replacement to run Cadillac later.

As senior vice president of global public policy, Ferguson will report directly to CEO Mary Barra, who is scheduled to testify next week before a Senate subcommittee investigating the recall .

“We need Bob’s leadership and full focus on rebuilding relationships and instilling confidence in GM’s efforts to create a new industry standard for safety,” Barra said in a statement. “As GM’s voice in critical policy issues, Bob will communicate a clear sense of purpose and collaborative spirit.”

Ferguson, 54, will be responsible for all federal, state and international government relations and public policy activities, GM said. That role was previously held by Selim Bingol, who also headed GM’s communications team before stepping down in April.

Cadillac became one of the industry’s fastest-growing brands under Ferguson, but it also experienced turnover in a key management post. In June, Bill Peffer became the second U.S. sales chief to leave Cadillac during Ferguson’s 21-month tenure.

Cadillac’s U.S. sales declined 2 percent in the first half of 2014. Ferguson had forecast a 10 percent gain for the brand this year, after notching a 22 percent increase in 2013 on the strength of several new and redesigned nameplates.

Cadillac sales in China grew 66 percent to a record of about 50,000 units last year, GM said.

Former CEO Dan Akerson raised eyebrows across the industry with his selection of Ferguson, who had no previous automotive sales experience, to run Cadillac nearly two years ago.

Ferguson came to GM in 2010 from Public Strategies, a communication and advisory firm, and previously spent 10 years as an AT&T executive.

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