Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A deal between President Barack Obama and Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff is critical to the U.S. economy’s health and to Ford Motor Co., the company’s executive chairman said yesterday.
“It’s vitally important for the economy that we work this out,” Bill Ford, who is also great-grandson of the automaker’s founder, told reporters after donating a Ford truck to Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit. “I clearly hope we get some bipartisan effort to avoid the fiscal cliff.”
Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally was among CEOs who met with Obama last week to discuss the assortment of tax increases and other legislative changes that would take effect at the end of the year. The fiscal cliff could threaten the nascent recovery of the U.S. economy, Ford said.
“It’s going to help the country,” Ford said yesterday of Mulally’s talks with Obama. “Ford is not isolated from what happens to the rest of the economy.”
The automaker’s chairman said he sees signs of progress toward reaching an accord.
“There seems to be good will on both sides to get it done,” he said.
Ford rose 3.1 percent to $10.83 yesterday at the close in New York. The shares have gained 0.7 percent this year.
Bill Ford also said he is looking for “more of the same” from Mark Fields as he steps up to the newly created chief operating officer job at Ford Dec. 1. As president of the Americas, Fields has led Ford’s North American operations to record profits this year.
“He’s done a great job on North America,” Ford said yesterday of the 51-year-old Fields. “And he has operated this way for several years.”
Commanding higher prices for models such as the redesigned Escape sport-utility vehicle enabled the Dearborn, Michigan-based company to earn $6.47 billion before taxes in North America in 2012’s first nine months. The region had an operating profit margin of 11.2 percent in an industry where a 5 percent margin is respectable.
The appointment as COO puts Fields in line to succeed Mulally, 67, as the automaker’s top executive. Fields, a 23-year veteran of the automaker, led a transformation of its North American operations from record losses four years ago to this year’s record profits. Mulally will remain president and CEO through at least 2014.
Fields will “have the benefit of Alan being there to continue to mentor him,” Ford said.
Ford said the transition should be seamless and invisible.
“I don’t think anybody will notice a big difference,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Keith Naughton in Detroit at firstname.lastname@example.org
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