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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]


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."


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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Permanent CEO?

      Is that something like "President for Life?"

      Usually that connotes a "dictator", without actually using the word.

      As if GM needs more of that... Maybe they need to work on customers before working on CEOs...

      (and please check your sarcasm meter battery before taking some of this too seriously.)
        • 5 Years Ago
        My sarcasm meter is powered by pixie dust and unicorn farts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sarcasm meter works just fine and so was my funny meter. That just wasn't very funny.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sarcasm isn't always funny, and I wasn't going for a laugh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM = Amtrak without the rails.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice knee jerk reaction there green. Considering the taxpayers have been funding and losing money on Amtrak since 1971, his comment seems to ht the... Mark.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Totally off topic but in reference to the Acela when/if Amtrak gets that train up to top speed between D.C. and New York there will be no reason to fly between the two cities.

        The Acela train will be nearly as fast without the huge security wait on one end and the very long wait to deplane on the other. No cost to check baggage either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Greenthumb, read Atlas Shrugged.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not knee jerk, here is a link you should read.


        The the biggest problem with rail travel, is how much land it consumes. Try running a railway from NYC to LA. Legal costs will by far outstrip labor and materials.

        The next time you start up your shiny automobile and drive it onto a public roadway, be it Federal, State, County or local municipality, please be aware that your trip IS being subsidized by public funds. Snow removal, law enforcement, maintenance, inspecting bridges, picking up roadkill etc. All taken for granted, all subsidizes provided by the very same Uncle that subsidizes Amtrak.

        Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is a personal, philosophical, romantic and very narrow view of this issue.

        Here is the reality of what caused the demise of passenger rail service in the US:

        National City Lines, which had been in operation since 1920, was organized into a holding company. General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, Phillips Petroleum, Mack, and the Federal Engineering Corporation made investments in the City Lines companies in return for exclusive supply contracts.[3] Between 1936 and 1950, National City Lines bought out more than 100 electric surface-traction systems in 45 cities including Detroit, Cleveland, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles, and replaced them with GM buses.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Why is it stupid Americans always seem to think that there are simple answers/solutions to complex issues.

        Exactly what do you know about Amtrak? Do you also know that the Auto and Airline industries are primarily responsible for the current state of Amtrak and passenger rail travel in the US today? THINK about it, a successful passenger rail system in the US is a death blow for domestic air travel. Since the Acela was introduced, very few people fly commercially between Boston and NYC, or NYC and DC.

        Hey notice that Amtrak has been replacing the wooden rail ties with reinforced concrete ones? The wooden ones cannot support high speed trains. Boston to DC was done to support the Acela. Approximately 3000 ties are used per mile of railroad track.

        P.S. : A rail tie is the 8’L x 6”W x 8”H pieces of lumber (now reinforced concrete) that ties the left and right rails together.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who is GM gonna get next to manage this company? A former McDonalds employee of the month? GM is finished.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Showdown at the Not-So-Okay Corral
      It looks like Ed will be burning the midnight oil at RenCen instead of taking the Red Eye home to Texas tonight.

      Last Updated: January 22. 2010 1:00AM
      Union: Opel plant closure a 'declaration of war'
      Associated Press

      From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100122/AUTO01/1220401/1148/auto01/Union--Opel-plant-closure-a--declaration-of-war-#ixzz0deY9uOPH

      PHOTO: Opel workers block the entrance to Opel's Antwerp plant in Belgium, Thursday after they were told of the factories closure.

      From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100122/AUTO01/1220401/1148/auto01/Union--Opel-plant-closure-a--declaration-of-war-#ixzz0deYE43F6
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wonderful. More awkward TV ads.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dear Rick, I had just wanted to comment on what you wrote about GM sending production out of America. Every car that General Motors sells, inside America with the exception of 2 models of Chevrolet, that are built in Canada, and the Chevy HHR, and Avalanche which are built in Mexico, are all built right here in the United States. Look this up, if you don't believe me. In all fairness to GM and other American companies, they have been forced to expand in other countries such as China, because of the advent of free-trade which kicked into high gear in the early 1990's. General Motors is the #1 selling brand in China. They outsell all of the Asian makes there. GM has really made strides in their quality since the 1980's when they put out alot of garbage. I have been a GM tech for almost 14 years, and I think that if you gave them a try you might surprise yourself. I will stake my reputation as a mechanic on this. The UAW has made serious concessions in the last 5 years, and as far as prices are concerned I promise if you go to GM.com and compare prices that inmost cases GM will win. GM is actually in the process of retooling a factory right here in Michigan to build the new Chevy Spark, and Aveo, instead of importing from China which was said in the media. As of right now I assure you that GM does not import any vehicles from Asia to sell in the United States. We Americans desperately depend on GM for precious jobs in which we are losing because of people no longer buying American.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do you mean "permanent" or "permanant"?
      • 5 Years Ago
      ah, bueno...as long as the Z28 is green-lighted >>
      • 5 Years Ago
      Didn't AT&T get bought by SBC or SBS or something and renamed themselves AT&T cause AT&T was failing? AT&T also sold off the other companies under it umbellar cause they were failling. I still hope GM makes it a lot of history there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      GM hired a 68 year old as their *new* CEO?

      Not to discriminate, but what are they going to do when this guy dies of old age, 5 minutes from now?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ha ha ha! That's why he's the 'permanent CEO', of which they will be able to select another in a very short time. If we see the next Impala with defib unit and IV drip built in we will know who to blame.
      • 5 Years Ago
      At BMW, one of the most successful auto companies out there, forceful retirement age is 60. It's perhaps a little on the other end of the scale, but I would certainly force it at 65 (Sorry, Bob Lutz, we love you, but when you lost the CEO race at Chrysler you should have given it a rest).

      GM needs new blood, outside-the-box thinkers. An AT&T veteran is not my recipe for fresh, inovative or dynamic management. Someone from GE on the other hand...heck, even a Google veteran would have a better chance of reinventing GM, even if this last option would be a high-risk, high-reward bet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The guy who says they will be profitable by next year, then back tracks and say they might be profitable.

      The guy who says the Volt will be in the low $30's, then back tracks and says it will be in the low $30's only with the govt subsidy applied.

      This mo' doesn't know which way he is going until someone tells him.

      What this is is GM admitting they couldn't find anyone else in the world willing to take the job. He got the job by default.

      Good luck with that.
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