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Daniel Akerson, GM's new CEO

Akerson pushed GM to boost production of the highly anticipated upcoming Chevy Volt electric vehicle.  (Source: GM-Volt)
Questions of leadership remain, but the company does appear to be recovering

Amid a round of disappointing earnings reports from Cisco and others, General Motors actually had some good news to report yesterday.  Following it's May report of an $865M USD profit -- its first profit since Q2 2007 -- GM has posted an even bigger profit, announcing a net income of $1.3B USD on a revenue of $33.2B USD.

GM is also sitting on a stockpile of $32.5B USD in cash -- leftovers from bailouts received from the U.S. and Canadian governments, in addition to revenue for the sales of its laggard brands like Hummer.

That was the good news.  The somewhat troubling news for GM was its announcement that CEO Ed Whitacre was stepping down.  The quiet Texan had masterminded the company's turnaround drawing on his long history of success as a senior executive, and eventually CEO at AT&T.

The news reportedly stunned GM insiders.

Equally surprising, perhaps, is the choice for his successor.  Whitacre will be replaced by former Nextel CEO Daniel Akerson.  Akerson, currently a private-equity firm where he is a managing director with the Carlyle Group, currently serves on GM's board.

Akerson is a firm proponent of electric vehicles.  As public buzz and anticipation grew about the 2011 Chevy Volt, Akerson pushed hard for GM to increase production 50 percent.

Some are optimistic about the appointment.  As a board member, Akerson showed he wasn't afraid to sack people, pushing for Henderson's resignation.  Steven Rattner, former head of the White House auto task force, comments, "He's a no B.S. kind of guy, just like Whitacre.  His whole operating style is the antithesis of the old GM. It is hard for me to imagine a better choice."

But some fear that he's too much of a financial man and lacks the necessary experience to lead GM optimally.  Paul T. McCartney, a managing director of Heritage Search Partners Inc. in New York comments, "[His whole career] "has been focused on making the numbers as best as you can and [then] 'let's move on with the company in some other form.'  [He isn't] going to lay out the strategic future of General Motors."

From a purely statistical perspective, the odds merely of Akerson keeping his position seem slim -- GM has had four CEOs in just a year and a half.

However, it's critical that Akerson prove a decisive leader.  GM is on the verge of announcing a initial public offering of stock to repay the U.S. and Canadian governments.  That offering has now been put on hold as account executives responsible for it reportedly race to change the documentation -- something which gives you the idea of how unexpected Whitacre's departure was.

If Akerson can pull together and repay the government via a successful offering he will offer vindication to Democratic President Barack Obama and his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, who both chose to bet on GM, bailing the company out at the taxpayer's expense.  Such a success would certainly elevate Akerson into the annuls of automotive executive history.

However, if the IPO disappoints and GM falters, don't be surprised if Akerson becomes the latest GM chief to see the door slam behind him.



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RE: let's not forget
By Quadrillity on 8/13/2010 12:53:21 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
They DID go bankrupt, remember?

How many blank checks were handed to GM again?

I don't think this whole debacle can be defined as "bankruptcy".


RE: let's not forget
By YashBudini on 8/14/2010 9:09:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How many blank checks were handed to GM again?


How many were handed to Halliburton? Ask Cheney, he's sober enough to recall.

Maybe.


RE: let's not forget
By FITCamaro on 8/15/2010 10:47:19 PM , Rating: 2
You know I love seeing people bash Halliburton.

You lack the intelligence to realize that Halliburton is one of only a few companies in the world with the resources to do what was needed. It could have gone to them or one of the few other foreign firms. I'd prefer for it to go to an American company.

Was there waste? Yes. But how is that any different than any government agency? Not saying we shouldn't strive to reduce it, but there would have been waste there no matter what.


RE: let's not forget
By PaterPelligrino on 8/24/2010 1:22:39 AM , Rating: 3
Man you really have drunk the Republican Party-Fox News Kool-Aid.

The Bush administration turned to Halliburton because Cheney was its CEO from 1995-2000 and the contract was money in the pockets of Cheney's good buds; not to mention the fact that Cheney still retained stock options. In less cynical times, that is known as corruption.

Of course the only reason Bush-Cheney even asked a private company to do what in past wars was always considered the responsibility of the armed forces was because it was a way to keep the real cost of the war off the official budget. It would have been embarrassing for the "party of fiscal responsibility" to admit they were planning on throwing away the previous "tax-and-spend" Democratic president's budget surplus on a stupid campaign to get the guy who "tried to kill my daddy" and make the world a nicer place for Halliburton and Israel. The real cost of the Iraq War? - a trillion and counting. And what exactly did the average American - I mean those who didn't own Halliburton stock - get for that trillion?


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer














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