China has become an area of tremendous potential for companies as the nominally communist country has embraced capitalism. The hybrid result, according to Ford CEO Alan Mulally, is in some ways an improvement on what’s been a pretty sluggish and inefficient democratic process elsewhere in the world.
Bob Nardelli will be leaving Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that famously owned Chrysler during the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. Nardelli served as Chrysler CEO from 2007 until the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The Detroit News snagged a lengthy interview with GM CEO Dan Akerson, giving observers one of the first in-depth looks at the man who will be leading The General for the next three to four years. The interview is to lengthy to summarize here, but there are a few items that are worth noting…
Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is an agonizing character. There can be no doubt that he’s one of the smartest execs in the business, and yet he so often comes off as the stuffy, pedantic college professor, who sputters into ad hominem at the faintest sign of criticism. His speeches often revolve around stock speaking points and a copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, and as the video above proves, his delivery is rarely inspiring. But between the Einstein quotes and plaintive self-sympathy, Marchionne can offer moments of unexpected candor. His speech to Chrysler’s dealers earlier this week offered several such moments, and though it’s too long (and, frankly, boring) to reprint in its entirety (click here for the whole thing), here are a few stunners from the mind of Marchionne.
From the moment GM’s Chairman Ed Whitacre took over for Fritz Henderson as CEO, many wondered how long the 68-year-old Texan would stick around. Apparently GM’s board was not immune from such uncertainty either, as Bloomberg reports that it gave Whitacre an ultimatum: commit to the long haul or get out now. According to reports, several Wall Street banks asked Whitacre whether he would be leading GM long-term during pre-IPO meetings. Whitacre didn’t answer at the time, but the pressure from Wall Street clearly pressed the board’s hand. Since Whitacre ultimately didn’t want to stick around for an extended term (posibly due to the Treasury’s unwillingness to dump all of its stock during GM’s IPO), the board picked Dan Akerson to take over. But how will an unexpected handoff to an unknown executive with no industry experience affect GM’s IPO?
GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre just announced during GM’s Q2 financial conference call that he will step down as CEO on September 1, and as Chairman at the end of 2010. GM board member Dan Akerson will take over both of Whitacre’s position. Whitacre called Akerson “very involved” and said he expects a smooth transition. Whitacre planned to leave after “returning GM to greatness,” and says that “with a good foundation in place,” he’s ready to leave. The board’s been aware of Whitacre’s plan, and the board was ready to act when Whitacre said he was ready to step down. Akerson says he and Whitacre “share a vision” for GM, so instead of setting an agenda now, he’s focusing on a smooth transition. Akerson noted that Whitacre “had made some management changes” already, and he’s confident in his “deep bench.” The major transition, he says, “is me,” because he needs to gain a day-to-day, operational perspective on the business.
According to the Korea Times, Automotive News has named its “Auto Executives Of The Year,” bestowing its North American honors upon Ford CEO Alan Mulally, its European award to VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, and its Asian award to Hyundai CEO Chung Mong-Koo. Mulally is credited with improving Ford’s US-market position during a sales downturn, while Winterkorn was honored for his bold plan to move most of VW’s vehicles to only three modular platforms. But perhaps the most controversial award went to Chung, who has improved Hyundai’s standing in the global industry, but has suffered more than his fair share of legal problems in the process.
Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.
Last year, Porsche gave Magna an eight-year contract to build the Cayman and Boxster models from 2012 on. Then Porsche went to Volkswagen. Then Opel came. VW was miffed and said “us or Opel.” When Magna’s Opel deal went poof, VW said Magna can come home, all is forgiven. Apparently not quite. Volkswagen (or Porsche, hard to say these days…) want to use the factories of bankrupt Karmann which Volkswagen had bought and cancelled the contract. Magna cried foul and wanted money.
Now, the matter is official, writes Automobilwoche [sub].