June 29, 2018 / 12:47 PM / 23 days ago

Japan's SoftBank hires Ford's chief lobbyist as it ramps up Washington profile

June 29 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co’s long-time top lobbyist is leaving the No. 2 U.S. automaker to join Japan’s Softbank Group, which is muscling up its Washington efforts, a person briefed on the matter confirmed on Friday.

Ziad Ojakli, a Ford group vice president who has led the Detroit auto maker's government relations strategy since 2004, will leave the company in two weeks, a person briefed on the matter said, confirming a Wall Street Journal report here on Friday.

Ojakli starts at SoftBank on Aug. 1. A Ford spokeswoman did not immediately comment Friday.

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 Chief Executive Officer 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. (Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Additional reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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