While early rumors suggested that this morning's surprise news conference at General Motors' Renaissance Center might be to confirm the sale of Saab to Spyker, the big news emanating from the company's Detroit headquarters is that Ed Whitacre Jr. is scrubbing 'interim' from his door plaque and instead taking the title of permanent CEO.

The 68 year-old Whitacre has been on the job since December 1, bringing his experience as a past CEO of AT&T to bear on the troubled automaker following the removal "stepping down" of GM's CEO Fritz Henderson. Since he's taken the reins, Whitacre has made bold timetable pronouncements about the company's ability to begin repaying government loans following GM's bankruptcy, he's hired a new chief financial officer, consolidated the company's North American sales and marketing channels, and fired several brand managers.

During the press conference, Whitacre also updated the assembled media on other aspects of The General's business, including the Saab situation (still in talks with Spyker, no deal yet) as well as plans to pay back the U.S. and Canadian government loans by June. When asked, Whitacre admitted that while he plans to spend more time in Detroit, he does not plan to move out of his home in Texas.

Official GM press release available after the jump.

[Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]


PRESS RELEASE

Ed Whitacre to Continue as GM CEO

o GM commits to paying back US and Canadian government loans by June


DETROIT – Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., has agreed to continue as chairman and CEO of General Motors, it was announced today.

Speaking at a press conference at GM's headquarters, Whitacre also expressed the GM board's commitment that the company will pay back in full the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian and Ontario government loans by June.

Whitacre's appointment reflects GM's progress since the new company was formed last summer. "The board of directors asked if I would be willing to stay on at GM and help continue the company's road back to success," Whitacre said. "Having spent the past few months learning the business, meeting with our employees, customers and dealers, and working with the GM leadership team, I was both honored and pleased to accept this role. This is a great company with an even greater future, and I want to be part of it."

"We've made significant progress in the past couple of months, so much so that I can confirm with certainty that we will pay back in full the U.S. Treasury and Canadian and Ontario government loans by June," Whitacre said. "This represents a significant milestone in our journey back to being a profitable and viable company."

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About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 204,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.