Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., worries about traffic gridlock on a global basis.
Zhengrong Shi, chairman and chief executive of China’s Suntech Power Holdings, one of the world’s largest solar panel companies, wonders whether “perhaps there’s too much democracy” in the U.S., making it difficult for the nation to adopt a coherent and consistent industrial policy.
“There are no decisions being made,” he said. “It’s like in a company. Sometimes you hear all the voices. The CEO knows what the right decision is and sometimes they just want to bang the table and say, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on September 15, 2009
Over lunch with WSJ and DJN editors today, Alan Mulally presented the case for Ford Motor Co.: It makes fuel-efficient, affordable, attractive cars and light trucks; its branding is focused and disciplined (and, he didn’t say this but it’s true – archrival GM still has too many laggard brands); and while the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler gave them a near-term advantage (which he acknowledged), in the long-run Ford will benefit from having to repair its balance sheet on its own as consumers buy its wares and investors its securities. It’s a plausible and appealing story of a great American corporate icon surviving an appalling industry and economic collapse without a federal helping hand – all with the founding Ford family still deeply involved in the company’s operations. Here are some snippets from the luncheon chat: In the near-term, Ford will be “a little bit disadvantaged” by the fact that GM and Chrysler had their bungled balance sheets scrubbed clean by the government – whereas at Ford “we’re not using our precious taxpayer money,” Mulally said. That said, Mulally says he genuinely believes Uncle Sam aims to exit GM and Chrysler as fast as possible, and a level playing field will be restored…..Ford is scrambling to grow in China, where it lags behind GM, Volkswagen and others. The plan is “to grow as fast as we can” in China,” Mulally said……As it expands overseas, will it do so organically or via acquisitions? Mulally says the strategy is organic growth with smart, technology-focused transactions along the way. He quipped that when one hears the term “strategy” in a business conversation it means “we’re going to lose money” and the term “synergy” means “cost cutting.”…..Asked whether he or Bill Ford will go on TV as Ford pitchmen as GM’s chairman is doing, Mulally said, “Bill’s pretty visible and I’m pretty visible” but there are no plans to peddle Ford cars on air…… Ford supports the Obama administration’s position on mandating vehicle fuel standards. “We are absolutely supportive of that,” he said. Does Ford continue to believe it will resume making money in 2011, as it has pledged to do? “We’ll be profitable in 2011 and (have) positive cash flow,” Mulally said. “We’re on our plan.”