• Aug 12, 2010

Another round of CEO Musical Chairs is being played at General Motors.

When Daniel F. Akerson officially begins his tenure as GM's chief executive officer on September 1st, he will be the fourth person to sit in that chair in less than two years. Rick Wagoner stepped down from the position at the request of the United States government and was replaced by Fritz Henderson, who then resigned in December of 2009. Ed Whitacre took the reigns in early 2010, and now Akerson will replace him as both CEO and chairman of the board by year's end.

But who is Dan Akerson? After all, most of us had never heard his name before this big announcement, and he must be awfully qualified if he's been offered the top-ranking position at one of the world's largest automakers.

Akerson, 61, has been a member of GM's board of directors since July of 2009 where he worked closely with Whitacre. In addition, he currently serves as managing director for the Carlyle Group, a United States buyout firm, and is one of the directors at American Express.

GM picked a successor for Whitacre who has had plenty of experience with business management. Akerson is the former CEO of Nextel Communications, a wireless carrier now owned by Sprint, as well as a former CEO of telecom services provider XO Communications.

He was also appointed to GM's board of directors after the company emerged from bankruptcy reorganization last year. He may not be much of a car guy by our definition, but in terms of someone capable of running a major corporation, both Whitacre and the rest of the GM board of directors are confident that Akerson will use his years of experience to continue to reshape GM during this crucial time of restructuring. Godspeed, Dan.

[Source: General Motors, The Wall Street Journal]
Show full PR text
GM Announces CEO Succession Process
Dan Akerson to Become CEO, Whitacre Remains Chairman


DETROIT – General Motors today said that Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. will step down as chief executive officer on September 1, 2010, and as chairman of the board by the end of the year, having successfully led the company's return to profitability after the most turbulent period in its history.

Earlier today, GM reported its second consecutive quarter of profits after a string of losses dating back to 2007.

Dan Akerson, 61, who has served on the GM board of directors since July 2009, will become CEO on September 1 and chairman by the end of the year, ensuring a smooth transition and continued positive momentum for company.

"My goal in coming to General Motors was to help restore profitability, build a strong market position, and position this iconic company for success," said Whitacre. "We are clearly on that path. A strong foundation is in place and I am comfortable with the timing of my decision."

Whitacre, 68, joined GM as chairman of the board on July 10, 2009. On December 1, 2009, he was named chief executive officer. He led the company after it emerged from a historic bankruptcy to become a profitable automaker again.

"Ed Whitacre was exactly what this company needed, at exactly the right time," said Pat Russo, lead director on the GM board. "He simplified the organization, reshaped the company's vision, put the right people in place, and brought renewed energy and optimism to GM."

"Dan Akerson has been actively engaged in and supportive of the key decisions and changes made at the new GM. He brings broad business experience, decisive leadership, and continuity to this role," said Russo. "The board of directors deeply appreciates the leadership Ed has provided and is pleased with the serious commitment Dan is making to the company. We look forward to his leadership."

In addition to serving on the GM board since July 2009, Akerson has had a distinguished career in
finance as a managing director at the Carlyle Group and in telecommunication, serving as chairman and
chief executive officer of XO Communications and at Nextel Communications. He was also chairman and
CEO of General Instrument Corp.

"There are remarkable opportunities ahead for the new GM, and I am honored to lead the company
through this next chapter," said Akerson. "Ed Whitacre established a foundation upon which we will
continue building a great automobile company."


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  • 37 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      So one of the heads of the Carlyle Group is now running GM. The Carlyle group owns Hertz with Bank of America who received massive government funds and is essentially told when to jump by the U.S. government and controls the rental car industry. As seen two days ago GM's turnaround and overinflated sales #'s are entirely the result of increased fleet sales to customers such as Hertz which has in turn propped up the unions and employment/wage figures. While others here quote wikipedia and other ghost sources I state the facts...you can decide why the government owned car company is now run by a guy who controls the single source of said car company's turnaround...
      http://nismostuff.blogspot.com/2010/08/conspiracy-time.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you really wanted to start getting into conspiracies, Carlyle offers a lot of potential plot lines. The company has had a few scandals already- from the Bin Laden family, to single-bid defense contracts, to "pay to play" pension funds, to Enron, to middle eastern governments.... The former head of a company that has oneof its primary focus on petroleum is now running a car company. Many of GM's suppliers are owned by Carlyle, in addition to its fleet purchasers... It is such an interconnected web- there are too many ways you could go with it:

        http://www.carlyle.com/Portfolio/Industry/item8227.html
        http://www.carlyle.com/Portfolio/Industry/item8225.html
      • 4 Years Ago
      OK, first guy to use the phrase 'Government Motors' get the predictable-asshat-lack-of-creativity award.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why the heck are they doing this!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Akerson is one of the most Republican-connected executives in America:
      http://www.nndb.com/people/365/000124990/

      Bush-Cheney '04
      The Freedom Project
      John McCain 2008
      McCain for Senate '98
      McCain-Palin Compliance Fund
      McCain Victory Committee
      National Republican Congressional Committee

      In addition, the Carlyle group invests heavily in military and petroleum-related companies. It is made up of a who's who of right wing political figures: George HW Bush, George W Bush, Carlucci, James Baker, John Major, Fidel Ramos. He currently manages perhaps the single most right-wing connected company in the world. Soon he will manage GM.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't say that CEO's are necessarily Republicans- the top 3 spots on the Forbes 400 are all active Democrats.

        Many of the more innovative companies are run by Dems. Think Google, Microsoft, Apple, Birkshire Hathaway, Oracle, Nike....
        • 4 Years Ago
        lne937s,

        You paint with too broad a brush. George HW Bush does not = right wing. Neither does James Baker. And I have my doubts about W.

        Some of the major Wall Street types are democrats as well as ex-Wall Street guys (Corzine, Bloomberg (says he's a Republican, but seriously, come on)).

        Most of the millionaires in the House and Senate are Democrats, as they were even when the Republicans were the majority.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thankfully his political affiliations has no bearing on the products that GM brings to the market. Heck most wealthy CEOs are republicans because republicans cater to the rich (FACT). Right now here in Michigan, Bill Ford Jr was in a political commercial for the front GOP runner for Governor, but I still would buy a Ford product.
      • 4 Years Ago
      GM made 33 billion in profits last quarter under Whitacre. I wish he would have stayed for another year or two. These CEO's are designed to reshape companies and get them profitable, then move on. Hopefully, they will get car guy in there eventually.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There were plenty making political comments (e.g. "teabaggers") in the other Akerson story.

      If you feel like being self righteous, go admonish those people as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't have high hopes for GM under this guy. Nextel made their money back in the day not by making better products or by having better service, but by having a lock on the Direct Connect feature and by cheaping out on network upgrades (even under Sprint the Nextel phones still run on a 1994-era network). This does not bode well for a company that has historically done the best when they make products that people are passionate about.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @imoore

      well, he may be... He was picked by the Government.

      "In July 2009, Akerson was named to the board of directors of General Motors as a representative of the U.S. Treasury, which owns a 61% stake in GM."

      Government owns GM. Goverment places Akerson on BOD. Akerson gets named as CEO and COB.... Hmmmmm
      HarleyMike
      • 4 Years Ago
      You mean he will be CEO of GOVERNMENT MOTORS.
      foozer99
      • 4 Years Ago
      Talk about a corporate raider .It appears he will position himself at the begining of stock offering which will net him a huge profit !!!! The laborers of this automaker will not share in its bonuses ,or profits having givin back billions in wages and health benefits only to see piece mealing of plants being sold to chinese conglamerate . Its time to get back to government by the people and for the people stop electing Lawyers ,C.E.O. and Millionaires they don't represent your views or protect your Job !!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think it is political, seems more to me like racism.
      Its always Obama, not the government or its parties.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Doesn't matter who is running GM, just watch your month, one slip of tongue, you will get your ass fired like the last guy.
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