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Trump to talk infrastructure with Musk, other business leaders source


U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday will discuss the administration's plans to boost infrastructure spending with Elon Musk, who heads Tesla Inc and Space X, and other business leaders, a White House official said. During his presidential campaign, Trump said he would push for a $1 trillion infrastructure program to rebuild roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects, but he has not presented a specific plan. The White House official said the discussion would focus on "opportunities where the private sector and the government can work together to help rebuild American infrastructure."The meeting will include major real estate and private equity executives, including developer Richard LeFrak, Vornado Realty Trust Chief Executive Officer Steve Roth and Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris. The New York Times reported last month that Trump asked LeFrak to consider overseeing construction of a border wall with Mexico.

Trump, a well-known New York real estate developer, told the Wall Street Journal in January that he was tapping LeFrak and Roth to head a new council to monitor spending on his infrastructure plan. Musk, who is making his third trip to meet with Trump since the president took office Jan. 20, said in December that he planned to start digging tunnels because of the traffic in Los Angeles.

Wednesday's meeting will also include Vice President Mike Pence, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, as well as General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford, McKinsey & Co partner Tyler Duvall and Nature Conservancy Managing Director Lynn Scarlett. Last month, Trump touted the infrastructure plan in an address to Congress."To launch our national rebuilding," he said, "I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States - financed through both public and private capital - creating millions of new jobs."

The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded U.S. infrastructure at D+ and estimated the country needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020. In January, Trump signed an executive order aimed at expediting environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially high-priority projects such as improving the U.S. electric grid and telecommunications systems and repairing and upgrading "critical" port facilities, airports, pipelines, bridges, and highways.

Volkswagen targets strong 2017 even as core brand struggles


WOLFSBURG, Germany Volkswagen (VOWG_p. DE) said it was capable of shouldering the costs of its emissions crisis and was targeting an even better year than in 2016 but warned that its core autos division continued to struggle."We see good chances of being able to ride the wave of the positive performance last year", when VW turned in record underlying profit, helped by sales of upmarket Audis and Porsches, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said on Tuesday at the carmaker's annual news conference.

VW expects group revenue to exceed last year's record 217 billion euros ($231 billion) by as much as 4 percent this year and is forecasting an underlying operating margin of between 6 and 7 percent, compared with 6.7 percent in 2016, it said, affirming a forecast given on Feb. 24. The company also aims to moderately exceed last year's record 10.3 million deliveries.

"You can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to make 2017 an even better year than 2016," the CEO said.

But VW appears to be making slow progress in tackling the biggest trouble spot within the 12-brand group, the long-planned turnaround of its core autos division. Operating profit of the namesake brand slipped further to 1.87 billion euros in 2016 from 2.10 billion a year earlier because of higher marketing costs related to dieselgate and plunging demand in Brazil and other key markets, finance chief Frank Witter said.