GM CEO forced out as U.S. readies autos aid

Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:42pm EDT
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By John Crawley and Kevin Krolicki

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Corp Chief Executive Rick Wagoner resigned under pressure from the Obama administration on Sunday as the government prepared to announce a second bailout for the company and its smaller rival Chrysler LLC.

Wagoner, a career GM executive and CEO since 2000, is stepping down as the top U.S. automaker struggles with a recession-fueled sales implosion that has pushed GM and many of its suppliers and dealers to the brink of failure.

"For them to change captains right in the middle of the rapids is not something GM would have done, but now (President Barack) Obama or (Treasury Secretary Timothy) Geithner can say, we've asked them to make the ultimate sacrifice," said Aaron Bragman, an analyst with IHS Global Insight.

University of Maryland economist Peter Morici, a one-time critic of Wagoner who had called for him to resign but now believes he had "started to get it," said the administration has a "PR problem" regarding unpopular corporate bailouts.

"They are bailing out just about anybody that shows up and says they need cash. The public has grown weary of it and instead of throwing a banker to the wolves they have decided to throw Wagoner to the wolves," Morici said.

GM would not confirm the decision. A White House official, who spoke anonymously because the resignation had not been announced, said it was done at the request of the administration.


There was no word from the government or others with knowledge of the situation on the timing of Wagoner's departure or who would replace him.   Continued...

<p>General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Rick Wagoner addresses the media during a news conference at the GM world headquarters in Detroit, Michigan in this February 17, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/Files</p>