Akerson may leave GM next year, search for replacement not started yet

Already there are many signs that suggest General Motors CEO Dan Akerson will retire next year, but he hasn't formally announced his plans to GM's board, The Economic Times reports, and the search for a new CEO apparently hasn't started. If Akerson retires next year, as is speculated, the move would come sooner than when was expected when he took the job back in 2010.

"I assume at some point he (Akerson) will decide he has done what he has wanted to do and will step down, but no one has a date for that," says an unidentified source who is familiar with the situation. Executives at Peugeot, GM's European partner, reportedly said after talks with GM earlier this year that they believe Akerson will retire before 2016 - more likely next year - according to knowledgable sources at the French automaker. And if Akerson's retirement is indeed nigh, GM representatives reportedly say, "We're very comfortable with our succession planning, which we have in place for all our key officers."

Let's take a look at some signs that point to his early retirement: back in April, GM restructured Akerson's pay to compensate for about $2 million in restricted stock that wouldn't vest until 2016, which he would have to forfeit if he retired early. Additionally, he didn't receive any restricted stock units in 2012. And while Mark Reuss is widely acknowledged to be the frontrunner to take the CEO helm, Akerson has been talking about replacements, too, and has said that a female CEO at GM is inevitable. On its own, that's an appreciated, progressive statement, but when considering Akerson's retirement situation, it reinforces that Mary Barra, GM's executive vice president of product development and one of the 50 most powerful women in business, is in contention for the job. The other two potential CEOs are Vice Chairman Steve Girsky and CFO Dan Ammann.

At this point, it seems GM is just waiting until Akerson has decided that he has done what he wants to do, in the words of the aforementioned, unnamed source, and investors aren't rushing to replace him.

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