Longtime Ford lobbyist Ojakli leaving for Softbank job next month
Ford Motor Co. is losing its longtime top Washington lobbyist to an investment firm that's investing heavily in Ford's crosstown rival General Motors.
Softbank Group Corp., a tech-savvy investment firm that earlier this year invested $2.25 billion in GM's self-driving vehicle operations, released a statement that said Ojakli will join the company as senior vice president and global government affairs officer, effective Aug. 1. The firm said Ojakli will be based in Washington and report to Softbank COO Marcelo Claure.
"Ziad is one of the world’s most successful and respected government affairs executives with a proven track record managing issues for large global entities where business interests intersect with public policy," Claure said in the statement. "As SoftBank delivers on its commitment to invest in the U.S. economy, our global portfolio of companies will benefit tremendously from his expertise."
Ojakli said in the statement: "SoftBank is a critical and growing contributor to the U.S. economy, and it’s an honor to establish its government affairs practice in the U.S. and around world."
Long tenure at Ford
Ojakli has been with Ford since 2004. In addition to his government work, Ojakli has overseen the automaker's philanthropic arm, the Ford Motor Company Fund.
"Z has been a valuable member of the Ford team for nearly 15 years," Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement. "During this time, he has been instrumental in driving global policy outcomes and leading philanthropic programs that support Ford's vision for growth and a better world."
Before working at Ford, Ojakli served President George W. Bush as a deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs.
The automaker did not immediately name a replacement, saying an announcement would come in the future. In the meantime, Ford said, Ojakli's work will continue under the leadership of Stephen Biegun, vice president of international government affairs.
The Wall Street Journal reported the move earlier.
Major issues ahead
Whoever replaces Ojakli will have a long list of tasks. Ford faces numerous challenges in Washington, including ongoing trade issues as well as the Trump administration's plan to revise fuel economy standards through 2025.
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was increasing his investment in the United States to $72 billion, significantly more than the $50 billion he had previously pledged.
"His $50 billion turned out to be $72 billion so far, he's not finished yet," Trump said, without providing details.
Trump's comments came at a groundbreaking ceremony in Wisconsin for a manufacturing facility for Foxconn, the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, attended by Son and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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