Tom Krisher of the Associated Press reports that General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner will step down from his post immediately, based on information given to him from an unnamed source. The news comes on the eve of President Obama's expected announcement of a deadline for General Motors and Chrysler to finalize their restructuring terms or enter government-backed, pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy. There's no official confirmation from GM at this time. The only announcement the automaker made today was a brief, two-sentence statement in response to the anticipated Obama announcement, saying that they continue to work with the President's automotive Task Force.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the move was specifically requested by the Obama administration as part of the rescue plan that will be announced tomorrow. Wagoner reportedly agreed, and COO Fritz Henderson would appear to be in line to be the new top guy at the RenCen. No official word on that so far, either.
Get ready a big week of auto news, kids. The NY Auto Show just got a whole lot more interesting, too. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Official message from Rick Wagoner and GM's announcement of Board restructuring after the jump.
[Source: Associated Press, Freep]
GM Message from Rick Wagoner
On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with Administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I "step aside" as CEO of GM, and so I have.
Fritz Henderson is an excellent choice to be the next CEO of GM. Having worked closely with Fritz for many years, I know that he is the ideal person to lead the company through the completion of our restructuring efforts. His knowledge of the global industry and the company are exceptional, and he has the intellect, energy, and support among GM'ers worldwide to succeed. I wish him well, and I stand ready to support him, and interim Non-Executive Chairman Kent Kresa, in every way possible.
I also want to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who supported GM and me during my time as CEO. I deeply appreciate the excellent counsel and commitment of the GM Board and the strong support of our many partners including our terrific dealers, suppliers, and community leaders. I am grateful as well to the union leaders with whom I have had the chance to work closely to implement numerous tough but necessary restructuring agreements.
Most important of all I want to express my deepest appreciation to the extraordinary team of GM employees around the world. You have been a tremendous source of inspiration and pride to me, and I will be forever grateful for the courage and commitment you have shown as we have confronted the unprecedented challenges of the past few years. GM is a great company with a storied history. Ignore the doubters because I know it is also a company with a great future.
GM Statement on Officer and Board Announcements
GM is announcing the following changes in the corporate officers and the board of directors:
- Rick Wagoner is stepping down as chairman and CEO, effective immediately. Wagoner, 56, was named president and CEO in 2000, and assumed the role of chairman in 2003.
- Fritz Henderson, GM president and chief operating officer, will serve as CEO. Henderson, 50, was named to his current position in 2008. He was previously vice chairman and chief financial officer.
- Kent Kresa, chairman emeritus, Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been named interim non-executive chairman of the board of directors. Kresa became a GM director in 2003
- GM is awaiting further announcements by the President and the Task Force on Automotive Reconstruction, and we will have additional comments at that time.
"The Board has recognized for some time that the Company's restructuring will likely cause a significant change in the stockholders of the Company and create the need for new directors with additional skills and experience. The Board intends to work to nominate a slate of directors for the next annual meeting that will include a majority of new directors taking into account the addition of new directors, retirement, and decisions by individual directors not to stand for re-election, although the specific individuals who will be nominated or choose not to run or leave the board are not yet known."