By on December 8, 2009

Nobody called me "Big Papa"!GM’s New CEO Ed Whitacre made his first appearance at the Fastlane blog in a webchat that represented the first access GM has given reporters to Whitacre. Needless to say, journalists do not like sharing their access with the general public, and they let GM know. Thedetroitbureau’s Paul Eisenstein asked “like many of my colleagues, I wonder when you will address us in the media directly, even if by telephone conference. To be honest, a webchat is quite a bit different and doesn’t carry the veracity of seeing or at least hearing you directly.” To which Whitacre responded:

Dear Paul,

I’ve been on the job for four days.   I’ll do it as soon as I feel comfortable and have enough clear air and time.   I promise we’ll talk soon.

No worries though. Whitacre didn’t actually say anything newsworthy.

What Whitacre did reveal can be summarized as follows:

GM has narrowed its search for new CFOs, and we can expect a decision in “two or three weeks.”

Whitacre communicates with the government task force about once a week, and according to Whitacre,”they promise to keep hands off and let the Board run the company.   They’ve been true to their word and done exactly that…I give them high marks.”

Saab’s fate will be decided by the end of December, but GM is still involved in negotiations with “several interested parties.”

Whitacre believes “Mr. Reuss and Mrs. Docherty will do a great job going forward,” and he has no plans to bring in a Chief Operating Offier.

Whitacre “likes cars,” drives a CTS-V, and has previously purchased a Tahoe, and Avalanche and a Yukon XL.

GM has no plans for further job cuts, although when asked “Fritz Henderson had only about 8 months as CEO before he left. How long do the newly appointed execs have to show results before they are replaced?” he replied “Not long :-)”.

GM is considering paying back the taxpayers $6.7b in a lump sum, rather than quarter-by-quarter.

Otherwise, there’s not much to report. Perhaps the best summary of the webchat was Whitacre’s answer when pressed for specifics on 2010 market share goals. “As much as we can get,” was his reply.

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14 Comments on “Ed Whitacre’s First Web Chat...”

  • avatar

    All is not lost. He knows what a smiley is.

  • avatar

    Payback of $6.7 bil…and he thinks that’s all GM owes the American public??

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Well, at least he can kill rattlesnakes, fire people, and appoint himself CEO. Not many people can do all that.

  • avatar

    I like Whitacre just because he is squeezing the lifers out. If he fires Dochetry, I will be his best friend.

    • 0 avatar

      Not to defend Wagoner, Henderson, Young, LaNeve or any of the others. But I have never seen any company turn around and recover from the depths to which GM has sunk where this kind of bloodbath has happened. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors.)

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve worked for/with several companies in bankruptcy and I’ve never ever seen one that left the old guard in place, actually GM is following the routine prefectly, usually, the old CEO is replaced by one of his Lt. upon entering BK and that person is left until BK is almost over and then a new one is brought in and the whole E level (except 1 or 2) is cleaned out so there can be a rebirth and exit.  (GM didn’t stay in for what would be considered a normal BK, that is the only variance so far) 

  • avatar

    $6.7B??  Didn’t they purloin upwards of $60B from us taxpayers????

  • avatar

    $6.7B??  Didn’t they purloin upwards of $60B from us taxpayers????

    Picky, picky, picky. This is part of the sleight of hand that GM (and the gov) is so used doing. 
    GM will give us back a tiny chunk of the cash, issue a press release that says they paid back the money, have the Volt “on the edge of mass production”, then do the IPO. 
    How many fanbois/stockholders couldn’t grasp GM’s fate was sealed 3 years ago? How many somehow couldn’t do the math last time? Sadly, they’ll fall for it again. This will be even sadder than the pathetic trading in oldGM stock that still continues to this day.
    Two-ish years post IPO, GM redux be CH7 and anything useful will go to Ford or the Chicoms.   

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    The loan is 6.7B.  The rest is equity held by the US Government, the Ontario Government and the UAW VEBA (healthcare fund).  Whenever the IPO is conducted, the dollars used to buy the new stock will go to the US Government, the Ontario Government and the UAW VEBA.  (from your friendly GM employee commentator)

    • 0 avatar

      Nice try.  But the public isn’t that stupid.  What is the company repaying the $6.7B loan with?  Oh that’s right, money in the escrow account.  Where did that money in the escrow account (about $18 billion) come from?  Oh that’s right, more and previous government loans.   And that amount isn’t even half of what U.S. taxpayers put in.

    • 0 avatar

      So then, the question becomes, (if and?) when the IPO occurs, will there be enough cash generated to repay the US/Ontario/VEBA?

      I don’t see that happening, but my crystal ball is pretty cloudy :-)

  • avatar

    So I suppose the $10 billion given new GM by the Canadian Federal Government, and which is part of the current year federal deficit in Canada, has just magically disappeared?

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the math. Any more than I understand Whitacre’s reticence in speaking to the press. He promised openness. As Forbes notes, his plan is currently a secret, the inference being, of course, that he’s rapidly dreaming one up.

  • avatar

    A plan? What? There’s no need for plans. Things will just work out for the best with no effort. Oh wait, that’s what Red Ink Rick said.
    If he’s actually formulating a plan of how to become profitable and stay that way, I’ll eat my hand. (I don’t wear hats)

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