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GM CEO Henderson Resigns, Board Chair Whitacre to Serve Temporarily

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Fritz Henderson, GM CEO

Fritz Henderson, GM CEO

At 4:45 pm this afternoon, General Motors Chairman of the Board Ed Whitacre announced that the Board of Directors had accepted the resignation of chief executive officer Fritz Henderson.

Whitacre will serve as the acting CEO until a successor is hired. Henderson had been on the job less than a year after the resignation of longtime CEO Rick Wagoner.

The Board will immediately embark on a search for a successor, offering them the opportunity to bring in someone from outside the auto industry. Ford Motor Co. did the same thing four years ago, when it hired Alan Mulally from Boeing.

"We all agreed changes needed to be made," Whitacre said in a very short press conference. "We are united and committed to the task we have at hand," which is to "accelerate our progress" toward profitability and repaying the U.S. and Canadian taxpayers who have funded this spring's GM bailout after its 40-day bankruptcy.

Whitacre took pains to "assure all our employees, dealers, suppliers, union partners, and most of all our customers" that GM's "daily business operations continue as normal." He offered brief, cursory thanks to Henderson for his "leadership and years of service to GM."

Whitacre did not take questions. A spokesperson later added only that the Board and Henderson had agreed that it was time to make changes. Despite repeated questions from the press, no reasons were given aside from a brief mention of the desire for a "fresh start".

Henderson had been scheduled to give the keynote address at the Los Angeles Auto Show tomorrow morning; that task will now fall to Bob Lutz, GM's former product czar who is now running the company's marketing.

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Comments (14)
  1. He must have given an interview to Fox News, so Rahm fired him.
     
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  2. When ford got mullaly, they got the Boeing production line process and efficiency. I can't think of any on company GM could emulate that would get them where Ford got...unless they get Mullaly himself?
     
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  3. Would like to hear from current GM people on this. Why now? There had been talk a couple of weeks ago about changing the culture at Chrysler. Maybe GM's board thought that was a good idea, too. Would like to see an exec familiar with process that comes from outside Michigan, with the marching orders to hack away the management dead wood and remake the organization. A simple reorg won't solve anything.
     
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  4. I am suggesting b4hand, dont get another "finance guy"(or gal) to lead the NEW GM. Make sure you select a new talent with marketing & sales background. I honestly propose Susan Docherty... Let the "women ruling the world" keep rolling; BUT Bob Lutz must stay!
    Seriously, my candidate for the new CEO, Ms. Docherty makes a lot of sense. Come to think of it, she's got good relations with the dealer network, she is good in leading/managing sales, just got promoted, and she is and has been working darn hard to put things back in track. The Auto Task Force, Ed Whitacre and Ray Young are all looking well after the financial issues with no doubt... There is simply a need for a sales person at the top. Finance guys used up their rights to serve now; GM has been appointing CEO's direct from its finance dept. since decades... If talking about change this pattern HAS TO CHANGE. Susan get ready please! /MT
     
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  5. I would definitely recommend considering a person who's heart (and proven track record of accomplishment) is more sales & marketing. A once great brand needs to be re-built. While relentless focus and execution on hard-core manufacturing operations is also key, I think the need to re-build a brand is first among equals.
     
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  6. This is not that surprising. Well maybe how quickly it happened was a bit of a surprise. Henderson wasn't any different to Wagoner - still slow, even in these desparate times.
    Whitacre knows what's going on.
     
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  7. Im not sure why they picked him in the first place. GM needed a real shakeup and the number 2 guy was not real "change". That said he did a nice job getting GM out of bankruptcy quickly
     
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  8. With the billions (that's right billions!!!) spent on rescuing this "private" company between bailouts and Cash4Clunkers, they still can't produce a vehicle that will outsell the Japanese. Maybe they should realize that Americans need jobs before they can buy cars. The last batch of overpriced cars they brought off the assembly line just got repossessed (see: http://www.repofinder.com) from unemployed Americans. I'd rather push a Toyota than drive a GM.
     
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  9. This whole thing -- and the silly Ask Fritz campaign -- makes me angry. Is it looking like we'll have one and a half domestic automakers?
     
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  10. Only one person can save GM -- Obama himself! I'm for giving him a three year leave from his DC job to tackle GM.
     
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  11. When you gotta go, you gotta go...
     
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  12. The marketeers also ruined GM. Remember the guy from Proctor and Gamble who brought badge engineering to its zenith at GM? I say hire an executive from Toyota, Honda, VW, or BMW with an engineering background to run GM. Such an executive would ensure that cars are engineered right without cutting corners and would not exact a king's ransom in salary. Just look at the Buick LaCrosse in attempting to say that it is better than a comparable Lexus. The first fallacy in GM's argument is while you find a headrest for the middle rear seat passenger in the Lexus, it is missing from the Buick. Enough said. Another option would be to replace Henderson with manager of the NUMMI factory. He is familiar with building quality products the Toyota way.
     
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  13. hmm, it seemed like the company was turning around and making some better vehicles, this should be the time that he wants to stick around for
     
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  14. GM's position is not the best nowadays. It is true that something is needed to be changed. Of course, changes are not painless. Usually they are. For me, it is associated with the song Painful Fee by Aaron Robinson. I downloaded it at music seach http://www.mp3hounddog.com . But usually such pain is not in vain and soon brings crops. Let's hope this time it will be this way, too.
     
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