Calling the move a voluntary decision, Millikin, 66, will stay on until a replacement is found. Millikin, whose career at GM has spanned nearly 37 years, has served in a number of roles for the company, largely staying out of the spotlight. That changed dramatically when he was called to testify on Capitol Hill this summer to explain GM's handling of recent ignition-switch recalls, which have cost the company millions of dollars and badly dented its public image. As of October 14, GM had approved 27 payouts for deaths related to the recalls, and Millikin himself has come in for significant criticism for his handling of the recall issue on GM's behalf.
Millikin has been the Detroit automaker's general counsel since 2009 and held a variety of legal and other posts within the company, including serving on the boards of Opel and GM Korea. He joined the company in 1977. GM said it will immediately begin a search for his replacement.
In a statement, GM CEO Mary Barra praised Millikin's long career and noted his work leading the automaker's response after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"Mike has had a tremendous career, spanning more than 40 years, with the vast majority of it at GM," Barra said. "He has led global legal teams through incredibly complex transactions, been a trusted and respected confidant to senior management, and even led the company's global business response team following the tragedy of 9/11."
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Outside search for replacement begins
DETROIT – General Motors today announced that General Counsel Michael Millikin informed the company of his decision to retire in early 2015. The company will immediately begin an external search for his replacement.
"Mike has had a tremendous career, spanning more than 40 years, with the vast majority of it at GM," said GM CEO Mary Barra. "He has led global legal teams through incredibly complex transactions, been a trusted and respected confidant to senior management, and even led the company's global business response team following the tragedy of 9/11.
"For me personally, Mike has been incredibly helpful over the past two decades," Barra said. "I find him a man of impeccable integrity, respectful candor, and unwavering loyalty. He will be missed. I wish him and his wife, Karen, much happiness in this next chapter of their lives."
Said Tim Solso, chairman of the General Motors Board of Directors: "Mike has served the Board extremely well. He has been a valued advisor, a strong leader and a consistent and honest voice over the past several years. On behalf of the Board, I wish him well in retirement."
Millikin, 66, will remain in his position until the transition of the new General Counsel is complete.
Some GM career highlights for Millikin:
• Joined GM in 1977
• Joined the overseas legal matters practice area in 1981
• Named head of the in-house litigation practice area in 1987 where, among other accomplishments, he spearheaded the company's response to the theft of confidential documents and data by Jose Ignacio Lopez and some of his followers
• Named Vice President and General Counsel of GM's International Operations (GMIO) in Zurich, Switzerland in 1997, and named to the GMIO Strategy Board
• Named to Opel Supervisory Board in 1998
• Moved to GM headquarters to coordinate the provision of GM's legal services to global operations in 2000
• Named to the GMDAT (now GM Korea) Board of Directors in 2002
• Named Associate General Counsel in 2005
• Named General Counsel in 2009
Millikin graduated in 1970 from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science. He graduated in 1973 from Washington University School of Law and clerked for Judge Vincent J. Brennan of the Michigan Court of Appeals. In 1975, he was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit, where he concentrated on the prosecution of drug and drug conspiracy cases.
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