New GM chief Daniel Akerson not usual 'car guy'

New GM chief Daniel Akerson not usual 'car guy'
He's been CEO of three other companies, but none
in heavy manufacturing, the heart and soul of a car company. Akerson isn't a self-professed "car guy," the kind with gasoline in the veins that traditionalists say is necessary to really run a car company properly.
GM EARNS $1.3B: Whitacre steps down after 2nd straight profit
His current job is high in the obscure world of private equity emphasis on "private" at the Carlyle Group, where he's a managing director.
No automotive background. No heavy manufacturing experience. No operating track record at GM; just his involvement in board activities. Still, he might be exactly right for the job.
"He's well connected in the financial community" just as GM is preparing an initial public offering of stock, notes Joseph Phillippi, head of Auto Trends Consulting based in Short Hills, N.J.
Phillippi and others expect GM to file the IPO registration today. GM wouldn't say.
If the Securities and Exchange Commission approves the IPO, the U.S. and Canadian governments, the United Auto Workers and the pension fund could sell their GM shares to private i nvestors, hoping to pay themselves back for rescuing GM from bankruptcy.
The surprise pick to take over as CEO of General Motors on Sept. 1 is such an unknown that GMers weren't even sure Thursday how to pronounce his last name.
They decided it's AACK-er-son: Daniel Akerson, 61, a member of the automaker's board of directors since last July.
The automaker went through Chapter 11 reorganization last summer. The rescuers divvied 500 million shares of common stock in the new, post-Chapter-11 GM. The U.S. government taxpayers got 60.8%, or 300 million shares.
Akerson was one of five new directors that the institutional owners of GM installed last year.
In what amounted to a breathtaking surprise, current CEO Edward Whitacre, 68, announced Thursday that he'll step down Sept. 1, and Akerson w ill replace him. "It was my plan all along ... to help return this company to greatness, and I didn't want to stay a day beyond that," Whitacre said during a conference call Thursday with reporters and investment analysts.
The conference call was to discuss GM's second- quarter earnings of $1.3 billion, its second- consecutive quarter in the black.
"Ed and I share a common vision for the company, where it is today and where we hope to take it in the future," Akerson said.
Detailing his priorities or his plans for a post- Whitacre GM "would be premature," Akerson said.
"Ed is acting like a good turnaround person should. He came in and did what he was supposed to and found a person he was comfortable with and is leaving the company in good hands," says Detroit- area turnaround expert James McTevia of McTevia & Associates.
Akerson will be GM's fourth CEO since May 2009, so, "the issue for GM is stability," says Michael Robinson, senior vice president at Levick Strategic Communications. GM needs "a leader who is going to unpack his boxes and stay put."
That continuity and commitment makes workers more confident, productive. And, Phillippi notes, it gives potential investors confidence in GM that translates into a higher price for the initial stock offering. Akerson will be viewed as "an outsider coming in with strong management skills while the place is running extremely well."
Ford Motor has about 3.4 billion shares of common stock outstanding, trading around $12 lately. That makes Ford worth about $40 billion. The assumption is that a healthy GM would be worth about the same, making the 500 million shares worth at least $80 each. But the U.S. needs close to $170 per share to cover approximately $50 billion in taxpayer money it has put into GM.
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