Edward E Whitacre Jr, former AT&T Inc chief executive officer, who was appointed the ailing auto major GM's chairman says he considers steering the biggest US automaker after bankruptcy as a ''public service''.
Whitacre who was instrumental during his 17 year tenure as AT&T CEO in building the company into the largest US provider of telephone service will lead a 13-member board with six incumbents as the Detroit-based GM completes the reorganising procedure in the court with the help of US Treasury.
He will have on the board interim chairman Kent Kresa, CEO Fritz Henderson and holdover directors Philip A Laskawy, Kathryn V Marinello, Erroll B Davis Jr and E Neville Isdell.
According to James Kahan, a former AT&T colleague of 20 years Whitacre took the job out of patriotism to not let an American icon go down with a great fight. Whitacre was the choice of the Obama administration as it propped up the ailing GM during its reorganisation according to Kresa.
Meanwhile, GM has initiated a selection process to identify four more directors who will serve on the board of the reorganised company. With the Canadian government and the new United Auto Workers' Voluntary Employee Benefit Association nominating one director each the board will have 13 directors.
On 1 June, GM announced its three domestic subsidiaries had filed voluntary petitions for relief under chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company's reorganisation plan provides for the sale of all its global assets to a new entity that will operate under the GM name. That sale is subject to court approval.
Kresa said that the appointment of Ed Whitacre as chairman represented a very auspicious beginning to the new GM and the company looked forward to working with him to complete the reinvention of GM and maximise the enormous potential of the new enterprise.
Whitacre is known to be a man of action who really values input from, the newest, lowest worker to the company's most senior people.
With Whitacre's appointment, two of the three Detroit automakers will have chairmen from outside the industry, after GM and Chrysler leave bankruptcy. Robert Kidder, former CEO and chairman of Borden Chemical Inc and Duracell International will take over as chairman of Chrysler, while Ford Motor Co's chairman is Bill Ford, a former CEO and great-grandson of the company's founder. Ford CEO Alan Mulally was with Boeing Co.
According to industry analysts Whitacre was coming into an industry that is accustomed to heavy regulations and he knew how to grow and company. The also add that the appointment of Whitacre also lends a lot of credibility to GM process.
General Motors was established in 1908. The company today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries with its headquarters in Detroit.