FOUR CEOs in 18 months? Talk about instability in what passes for
"leadership" at GM!
GM CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. Will STEP DOWN, Automaker Posts $1.3 Billion Profit
UPDATE: GM CEO Edward Whitacre Jr. step down from his position on
September 1, the WSJ reports. He will be succeeded by board member Dan
Akerson is the managing director and head of global buyout of The
Carlyle Group. Here's more information from the AP:
"Akerson, 61, will be GM's fourth CEO in 18 months when he takes over
Whitacre was named GM's chairman last July when GM emerged from
bankruptcy protection. After he ousted CEO Fritz Henderson, Whitacre was
named interim CEO in December and became permanent CEO in January.
Whitacre, the former head of AT&T, often said in a folksy Texas drawl
that he knew little about cars. But he shook up the company with a
number of managerial changes, including luring Chief Financial Officer
Chris Liddell from Microsoft Corp. He also combined sales and marketing
responsibilities and consolidated control of GM's core North American
market under one executive.
Whitacre said the board was aware of his plans the day he accepted the
CEO job, and he predicted a smooth transition.
"I believe we've accomplished what we set out to do," Whitacre said. GM
reported its second straight quarterly profit on Thursday.
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Akerson has been involved in GM's transition every step of the way,
Whitacre said. "He's absolutely the right choice."
Akerson has served on GM's board since July 2009. He has worked for The
Carlyle Group since 2003.
Like Whitacre, Akerson has a background in telecommunications. He worked
in top executive positions at MCI Communications in the 1980s and 1990s.
He also served as chairman and CEO of XO Communications Inc., where he
oversaw a major restructuring, and chairman and CEO of Nextel
Communications Inc., where he shifted the company from a regional
walkie-talkie maker to a digital wireless provider.
Akerson said he does not expect to make big management changes when he
takes over for Whitacre in just under three weeks.
He said he knows GM's management well and that Whitacre has made
significant changes in his year at the helm. Those changes have pointed
GM in the right direction."
(DETROIT, AP: Tom Kirsher and Dee-Ann Durbin): General Motors Co. said
Thursday it made $1.33 billion in the second quarter, a sign it's
getting healthier as it prepares to sell stock to the public.
It was the second straight quarterly profit for the Detroit automaker,
which made $865 million in the first quarter, and sets the stage for GM
to file paperwork soon to start the public stock sale process.
CEO Ed Whitacre said last week that the company is eager to sell shares
in an initial public offering so it can end its dependence on the
government and pay off $43.3 billion in bailout funds that were
converted into a majority stake in the company. Whitacre wants the
company to shed its "Government Motors" moniker because it's hurting
sales and the company's image.
But it's unclear if the recent record of profits - $2.2 billion for the
first half of 2010 - is enough to convince investors. GM lost $88
billion in the five years before it filed for bankruptcy protection last
Although GM is performing well, the timing still isn't right for it to
sell shares in the next few months because of the sputtering economy,
said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner of IPO Boutique in Tampa,
Florida, which advises investors on IPOs.
Several recent IPOs have been postponed because of concerns that they
won't get a high enough share price, he said. He also said the Obama
administration is pressuring GM to sell prematurely to influence the
November congressional elections. Last week, Whitacre said the elections
are not being considered, and the government has repeatedly said GM is
in charge of the sale timing.
"The numbers are good. You can't argue that," Sweet said. "There is a
huge incentive to have an IPO of GM, but it also must work."
GM's second-quarter revenue totaled $33.2 billion, up 5.3 percent from
the first quarter on growing sales in every region except Europe. In the
U.S., GM saw strong sales of new and redesigned models like the
Chevrolet Equinox wagon and Buick LaCrosse sedan.
Its North American unit, long a source of losses, has turned into a
profit machine, making $1.59 billion before interest and taxes in the
second quarter, up 31 percent from the first quarter. Profits from its
international operations, which include China and Brazil but exclude
Europe, dropped 42 percent to $672 million, and GM lost $160 million in
Much of the North American profit came because it is getting higher
prices for cars, trucks and crossovers. For example, GM said buyers paid
11 percent more, or $3,000 on average, for crossovers than they did in
the second quarter of last year. Crossovers look like sport utility
vehicles but are more efficient because they are based on car
GM said it earned $2.55 per share for the quarter. It didn't report
second-quarter results last year because it spent part of the quarter in
bankruptcy protection, but on Thursday, GM said it lost $12.9 billion in
the second quarter of 2009, or $21.12 per share.
So far, GM's results are a reversal of fortune from 2009, when it lost
$4.3 billion from July 10, the day it exited bankruptcy court, through
Dec. 31. Before the first-quarter results, GM hadn't reported a profit
since the second quarter of 2007.
GM said it ended the quarter with $32.5 billion in cash, down from $36
billion in the first quarter.
GM has been working to streamline operations and slash costs. It has
shed four brands, changed leadership and last week announced its U.S.
dealership network would number 4,500, about 25 percent smaller than it
was in early 2009.
But it still faces hurdles. GM's U.S. sales rose 14 percent in the first
six months of this year compared to the same period in 2009, according
to AutoData Corp. That was slightly less than the average industry
increase of 17 percent. GM had the highest incentive spending of any
major automaker at $3,691 per vehicle, almost $1,000 more than the
industry average, according to Edmunds.com.
GM has also relied heavily on sales to rental-car, government and
corporate fleets, which are less profitable than sales to individual
customers. Retail sales - or sales to individuals - were up 11 percent
industry wide through June, but up only 1 percent at GM.
GM is the last of the Detroit automakers to report second-quarter
results. Ford Motor Co. made $2.6 billion, its fifth straight quarterly
profit. Chrysler Group LLC, which got $15.5 billion in federal aid,
narrowed its second-quarter loss to $172 million.
The U.S. government has owned a 61 percent stake in GM since the company
left bankruptcy protection.
GM has already paid $6.7 billion in government loans. Whitacre said GM
wants to sell its stock all at once, rather than in batches, which would
end the government's ownership more quickly.
But the U.S. government and GM's other stakeholders - a United Auto
Workers health-care trust, which owns 17.5 percent of the company; the
Canadian government, which owns 11.7 percent; and old bondholders, who
own 9.8 percent - will ultimately decide how much of their equity to sell.
A GM IPO could be the largest such sale in U.S. history. It would have
to bring in $70 billion to pay back all of GM's stakeholders; some
analysts expect the IPO will be worth at least than much. That would be
more than Ford's market value of roughly $44 billion, but less than the
total value of Toyota's shares of about $113 billion.
Currently the largest U.S. IPO is a 2008 offering by Visa Inc. that
netted nearly $18 billion.
GM is taking steps to boost its U.S. sales. In July the company said it
would buy AmeriCredit Corp., an automotive financing company that serves
the subprime market, for $3.5 billion. Though it was partners with Ally
Financial Inc., formerly known as GMAC, GM previously lacked a so-called
captive financing company, which can offer better rates to customers
than outside financial sources.
GM also has several new vehicles in the pipeline. Its new Chevrolet
Cruze, due out next month, is GM's latest bid to make a desirable - and
profitable - small car. Later this year, the company will begin selling
the Chevrolet Volt, a $41,000 electric car with a small gas engine that
extends its range.
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