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Ford Plunks Down $200 Million Bet on Trump and Awaits Reward

Ford Motor Co. revealed Thursday the price paid for its aggressive push to curry favor with President Donald Trump: $200 million.

Within fourth-quarter results that met analyst expectations, Ford took a $200 million charge to cover the cost of abandoning a small-car factory in Mexico that would have built the Focus compact. The automaker announced the turnabout earlier this month after Trump, as candidate and president-elect, sharply criticized the plant.

The move may pay off in the long run and is peanuts for a $49 billion company. Ford said it’ll actually end up saving $500 million by not completing construction of the Mexico factory. Since that decision, the automaker has worked its way into Trump’s good graces and is now looking to parlay the relationship into more lenient regulations and tax breaks that could boost profits. Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields met twice this week with the president, who also speaks regularly with Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
The jockeying underscores how Ford’s financial well-being will be linked the next four years to the whims of a White House taking special interest in where cars are built and how fuel efficient they’ll have to be.

“The president is going to be very good for business and the economy,” Fields said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday. Still, the U.S. market has “plateaued,” he said. “We don’t have any plans to build any new plants, but clearly we want to continue to grow our business.”