Wagoner Out as GM CEO; Obama to Provide Details on New Auto Aid on Monday
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GM Confirms Wagoner Out, Fritz Henderson to Serve as CEO

Early in the morning on 30 March (East Coast time), GM announced that Rick Wagoner is stepping down as chairman and CEO, effective immediately (earlier post) and that Fritz Henderson, GM president and chief operating officer, will serve as CEO.

Wagoner, 56, was named president and CEO in 2000, and assumed the role of chairman in 2003. Henderson, 50, was named to his current position in 2008. He was previously vice chairman and chief financial officer. Kent Kresa, chairman emeritus, Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been named interim non-executive chairman of the board of directors. Kresa became a GM director in 2003.

In its statement, GM said that it is awaiting further announcements by President Obama and the Task Force on Automotive Reconstruction (due Monday), and that it will have additional comments at that time.

The Board has recognized for some time that the Company’s restructuring will likely cause a significant change in the stockholders of the Company and create the need for new directors with additional skills and experience. The Board intends to work to nominate a slate of directors for the next annual meeting that will include a majority of new directors taking into account the addition of new directors, retirement, and decisions by individual directors not to stand for re-election, although the specific individuals who will be nominated or choose not to run or leave the board are not yet known.

—Kent Kresa, Chairman GM Board of Directors

Press reports had surfaced earlier on Sunday of Wagoner’s ousting by the Obama Administration. Coincident with GM’s announcement, Wagoner issued the following:

On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with Administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I “step aside” as CEO of GM, and so I have.

Fritz Henderson is an excellent choice to be the next CEO of GM. Having worked closely with Fritz for many years, I know that he is the ideal person to lead the company through the completion of our restructuring efforts. His knowledge of the global industry and the company are exceptional, and he has the intellect, energy, and support among GM’ers worldwide to succeed. I wish him well, and I stand ready to support him, and interim Non-Executive Chairman Kent Kresa, in every way possible.

I also want to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who supported GM and me during my time as CEO. I deeply appreciate the excellent counsel and commitment of the GM Board and the strong support of our many partners including our terrific dealers, suppliers, and community leaders. I am grateful as well to the union leaders with whom I have had the chance to work closely to implement numerous tough but necessary restructuring agreements.

Most important of all I want to express my deepest appreciation to the extraordinary team of GM employees around the world. You have been a tremendous source of inspiration and pride to me, and I will be forever grateful for the courage and commitment you have shown as we have confronted the unprecedented challenges of the past few years. GM is a great company with a storied history. Ignore the doubters because I know it is also a company with a great future.

Wagoner had spent his entire career at GM, beginning as an analyst in the Treasurer’s Office in New York in 1977 subsequent to receiving his MBA from Harvard.



Rick is the sacrificial goat. It will do no good to get rid of him and probably cause a lot of harm. We may be seeing the end of GM forever.


Isn't 'Rick' one of those who sold EV scale NiMH battery technology(in all present hybrids) to an oil company for burial with the EV-1, declared it all to have 'no financial impact', and then presided over the GM 21th century death march?

Putting another finance wiz at the top should maintain GM's performance.

Hopefully GM executive retirement packages reflect their husbandry of the firm, it's employees, and it's stock prices.

Will S

Good riddance. GM and the US have suffered under him, with his short term vision of next quarter's profits and the push for gashogs like H2, H3, and the other big SUVs and crew cabs for personal use.

And he pushed to have the Bush Administration drop the PNGV program in 2001, when they were 2 years from having an 80 mpg family car hit the market.

I'm sure he has an obscenely rich golden parachute, so he's going to be wealthy all the days of his life. Hence, I've not one shred of sympathy for him.


It is generally considered in the auto industry that Rick Wagoner did more to reform GM for the better than any other executive that ever ran the company.

You can complain about the EV1, but he also did the Volt. You can complain about the H2, but he also did the Tahoe hybrid.

It is easy to gripe, grumble and be cynical, that is just a form of personal depression. Wagoner is a car guy and not a bean counter. Roger Smith was a bean counter and pretty much ruined GM.


"You can complain about the EV1, but he also did the Volt."

Can I buy one?


You could not buy an EV1, they were leased. So what is your point?


One less Bean Counter in Detroit. It's a start.


Wagoner has an MBA from Harvard, but he also understands the car industry and GM. He started with GM in 1977. There are lots of "bean counters" in Detroit, but few of them know the car business as well.


Wagoner is the sacrificial goat, but when the team is losing, you sometime fire a "good" coach. In 8 years, he has not turned it around, but got paid plenty. This will probably not fix things, but the new owners (us) may be willing to put money up if the old management goes. Otherwise there is nothing but bankruptcy left, in which case Wagoner would have gone anyway.

SJC: Maybe car guys are the problem. Ford brought in an outsider a couple of years ago, and they are in better shape for it.


I read that Ford is $124 billion in debt, I would not call that better shape. Ford just went into massive debt when the others would not. Then the others got caught in a financial collapse where there was no credit market. I would not call that luck nor skill on the part of Ford and their outsider.


"It is easy to gripe, grumble and be cynical, that is just a form of personal depression... Roger Smith was a bean counter and pretty much ruined GM."

Yes, GM corporate philosphy stacks incompetence high.

Right, millions of US taxpayers watching their monthly bailout billions thrown to the wind/GM are just a form of personal depression..


Henderson has been a "bean counter" with GM for more than 20 years. He has only been COO for a few months. If history is any lesson, Henderson is a place holder until they are taken to bankruptcy. This court action will open a black hole that we have never seen before.

Andrey Levin

Put The Girl in charge:



Wagoner will go where he already wanted to.. in charge of the volt project. The new guy is the guy he already intended to hand the reigns over to this just gives him an excuse to move where he already wanted to be years ago.

And yes this opens the door to a full on bankruptcy and the end of the uaw as we know it. When it caves in it will default as it has to on its medical and pension both of wich will transfer to the government as is already handled by laws already in place.

The result will be pensioners will loose about 255 of thier pensions and the medical benfits they once had will become medicare. At the cost of a HUGE amount of money to the taxpayer.

But this was garranteed to happen. It was always the case that post baby boom gen the car market in the us would implode and the house of cards built up to keep the former and current workers in medical and pension benifits would fail.

Why didnt they do something? Because in the 80s they thought we would all be dead by now.. and in the 90s they were sure of it.. but somehow we didnt die... yet. Im sure something will fix that soon enough. Personaly my bet is on giant atomic space gerbils.


There are 4 times more retirees than employees at GM. It is hard to provide health care for them and now the new hires make half as much as they used to. It is a race to the bottom. They just got there first.


GM and the US have done well under Wagoner, with profits from big cars, big SUVs and crew cabs for personal use - while they would still sell. If he had not done this then, the market would now be dominated by the Tundra, Titan, Armada. Sequoia etc. made with Asian (non-UAW) labor.


And he pushed to have the Bush Administration drop the PNGV program in 2001.
At that point they were obviously many years from having an 80 mpg family car hit the market (we don’t have one YET - after ten years).


Of course many believe only GM could possibly posses the expertise to make the EV1 or a desirable 80 MPG car.

Is GM so awesome? Maybe it also killed the Insight I.


And no, this does not open the door to a full on bankruptcy.
Obama will not allow this to be the end of the UAW.


Andrey - A woman in charge of a heavy industry like GM would be bad....real bad -- maybe the marketing department, but not the company as a whole. Have you ever worked for an angry b i t c h with a chip on her shoulder? I have - and the organization winds up being severely dysfunctional. Bringing in a woman may be a nice PC thing to do if/when GM is riding high again, but doing it at this point will result in pure chaos....then bankruptcy and shortly after liquidation & bye bye GM.


"GM and the US have done well under Wagoner, with profits from big cars, big SUVs and crew cabs for personal use - while they would still sell."

May this example of 'done well' not repeat.


"Full on" versus "controlled" bankruptcy, it is the beginning of word games. It takes lots of money to even begin to put a large corporation into and through bankruptcy. The amounts we see are just about enough to do that. As the Zen master says ...."we will see".


If Wagoner's performance is worth a $23 million retirement package, we should each expect billions.


He has been with them 32 years, his whole career. When someone has devoted their whole life to one corporation and did what they could in tough times for a $100 billion company, they deserve a good package. Lee Raymond got $400 million from Exxon for his retirement package for merging Exxon with Mobile.

A CEO works for the board and the board is suppose to represent the shareholders. With billion of shares and millions of shareholders, this model may not work the best any more. It is what we have until we change it. The board approved what was going on in the company and the CEO works for them.

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