The Detroit News reports U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos delivered a six-page ruling in favor of General Motors, saving the automaker from issuing a “park it now” order that would have proved costly both financially and in reputation. Had the order gone forward, it would have set a precedent that not even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could attempt in its limited penalty power. The attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit for the order, Robert Hilliard, may appeal.
Isn’t the Internet wonderful? Now industry types can trade barbs directly, without going through unreliable journalists. Ed Whitacre still needed to write a book (or more like he had it written) to put down Bob Lutz, Dan Akerson et al. Bob Lutz, however, has his own blog, hosted at Forbes, and boy does he take revenge on Whitacre:
Selim Bingol, GM’s PR bigshot, may not “negotiate with terrorists”, but he nearly wound up working for a terrorist sympathizer who was active on terrorist message boards: Bingol’s former client Ed Whitacre recommended the man as GM’s next leader.
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?
One might imagine that GM wouldn’t want to scare anyone away from its forthcoming IPO, but triskadecaphobes might just want to sit this one out. With a $5b credit line reportedly secured from a group of “at least 15” banks, Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]] reports that GM could file its S1 with the SEC as soon as tomorrow. In case that date is too pregnant with superstition, GM could wait until next Monday to file paperwork. Either way, GM is expected to go public by the Thanksgiving holiday.
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.
[Editor’s Note: The following is the transcript of a speech given by GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre today at the Center For Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminar (via GM Media)]
Thanks, Dave [Cole], and good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here…and it’s no wonder why you picked this location.
This really is beautiful country up here. And as a Texan, it pains me to say this, but it’s true…your lake really is bigger than any lake in Texas.
This is my first time at this conference, so I hope you will take it easy on me. You were nice enough to invite me last year…but at the time, I was still trying to figure out my way around the RenCen without getting lost.
Ed does things that are bolder and bigger rather than small and timid. All things being equal, Ed would like it bigger versus small. But all things aren’t equal. He needs to get the government the best value for its stake, too.
Former AT&T exec James Kahan tells BusinessWeek what kind of IPO GM’s Chairman would prefer. Unfortunately for “Big Ed,” that’s not up to him. GM’s value must be determined by the market, and due to political pressure on the government to end its ownership of GM and Chrysler, it will have to happen as soon as possible. A fourth-quarter IPO with “about half of the government stake [being sold] to the 20 top institutional investors” is in the cards. So we know the government won’t get out of GM entirely in the IPO… but how much will the market give the Treasury for half of its 61 percent stake?
Doubtless somewhat shocked and surprised about GM Chairman/CEO/Non-Car-Guy Ed Whitacre’s decision to take over product planning responsibilities, Automotive News [sub] did some digging into the decision, and offers a full report. According to AN’s GM sources, the decision comes down to one fundamental goal: holding lower-tier executives accountable for decision making. By reducing executive reviews of forthcoming vehicles by one third, or about four times per development cycle, lower-level executives and engineers will have more freedom to make decisions, and will spend more time developing and less time preparing data for executive reviews. And lest you think this decision doesn’t merit your attention, consider this: though GM’s bureaucracy had created incredibly long lead times, most automakers hold about ten executive reviews per new product. By cutting to four, GM is taking something of a step into the unknown.
The executive shake-ups show no signs of stopping at GM, as Ed Whitacre ended the week with yet another re-shuffle. And this time Whitacre himself is the big winner. Automotive News [sub] reports that Whitacre has assumed control of GM’s global product planning, leaving former planning boss Tom Stephens with the more prosaic responsibility of overseeing new product development. Whitacre will be assisted by new VP for product planning Steve Carlisle, who, unlike Whitacre, actually has some experience in product planning. Carlisle replaces Jon Lauckner, who will head up GM’s new venture capital unit. But the big news here is that a man who only just learned the term “segment” about five and a half months ago, is now in charge of GM’s global product planning. Quick learner or egomaniac?
GM’s now-infamous advertisement touting the payback of government loans “may have elasticized the reality of things,” in the words of Steve Rattner, but stretching the truth apparently pays off. Automotive News [sub] reports that a London public perception-tracking firm surveyed some 5,000 consumers, and found that The General’s image has improved since the ad started running. Of course, on YouGov’s brand image scale of 100 to negative 100, GM is up only five points to “17.” Clearly there’s still work to do.
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- Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
- ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
- SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
- El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
- Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.