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Old 03-04-2008, 12:54 PM   #1
Mr. Wyndham
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"Fritz" Henderson gets promoted to COO

And Rick Wagoner's load is lightened somewhat.
I think it's mildly important to stay up-to-date with GM...so here goes:

Quote:
GM CEO to Lobby, Travel More,
As CFO Henderson Moves to COO

By MIKE SPECTOR
March 4, 2008 8:58 a.m.

GENEVA -- General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said he will spend more time lobbying and traveling now that Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, the auto maker's current chief financial officer, has been promoted to chief operating officer.

Mr. Wagoner, speaking to a small group of reporters at the Geneva Motor Show, declined to say whether Mr. Henderson was being groomed for the auto maker's top job and stressed that the shuffling in executive ranks wasn't a reaction to GM's recent struggles. The promotion was "something I'd been thinking about for a while and talking to the board [of directors] about," Mr. Wagoner said.

Mr. Henderson's promotion, which includes the title of president, fills positions that had been vacant. In his new role, Mr. Henderson, 49 years old, will oversee GM's regional markets in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Ray Young, 46, GM's group vice president of finance, will take over as chief financial officer. Mr. Henderson has substantial experience running all of GM's business units and has been credited by United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger for a willingness to compromise on the way to striking a historic labor deal that offloaded billions in retiree health-care obligations from the auto maker's books.

"This is a natural development for two reasons," says John Casesa, a veteran Wall Street analyst who once worked in GM's marketing and product planning departments. "First, a company this size needs a chief operating officer. Rick's been doing two jobs -- CEO and COO -- in a period of crisis, and at least for now, the crisis has abated. Second, it's good succession planning because Fritz should be a leading potential successor. He's run every region for GM, and not for 15 minutes. "

Mr. Wagoner, 55, said GM's top ranks had been "stretched" and that he will now be able to focus on other pressing issues facing the auto maker while Mr. Henderson focuses on more day-to-day concerns, such as maintaining the company's evolving global structure. Mr. Wagoner pointed to lobbying on environmental regulations and spending more time in fast-growing emerging markets as key priorities amid his new lighter workload.

Mr. Wagoner said the "game's not over yet" on stringent new fuel-economy regulations just enacted as part of a wide-ranging energy bill, suggesting that GM still hopes to influence how the regulations are implemented. And he said there's more "advocacy work" to be done in regard to California's attempt to implement its own tough tailpipe emissions rules. The just-passed energy bill requires the auto industry to build fleets of cars and trucks that average 35 miles a gallon by 2020. Auto makers say California's rule could effectively force companies to reach more than 43 mpg by 2016 in some cases. California's attempt to implement the rule is currently bogged down in litigation.

Mr. Wagoner said he also hopes to at least double his amount of annual visits to China, a fast-growing new market where GM has become well-established. Visiting roughly twice a year in the past "didn't feel right," he said.

Separately, Mr. Wagoner said GM isn't "in any way panicked" about the current strike at supplier American Axle, which has forced GM to idle several factories. "Frankly, our inventories are fairly high," Mr. Wagoner said, adding that he hopes to see a resolution to the labor strife soon but doesn't anticipate any significant ramifications to GM's business.

On a separate issue dogging the auto maker, Mr. Wagoner declined when asked to say whether the auto maker's Saturn brand is profitable. Analysts and some dealers are critical of GM's large brand portfolio, saying some brands cannibalize one another. GM's new Chevrolet Traverse small sport-utility vehicle, for instance, has the potential to steal sales from the already-struggling Saturn Outlook. GM has acknowledged its many brands present challenges but executives have given no indication they plan to pare the portfolio.

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Old 03-04-2008, 07:47 PM   #2
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Interesting news, not particularly important but interesting none the less. Its good to hear that GM has managed to start its return to greatness while being overworked. It will be nice to see what happens when they get focused
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