AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre will step down as CEO on September 1st, with GM board member Dan Akerson replacing him. Whitacre will remain with GM as chairman until 2011, at which point Akerson will assume that role as well.
“My goal in coming to General Motors was to help restore profitability, build a strong market position, and position this iconic company for success,” said Whitacre. “We are clearly on that path. A strong foundation is in place and I am comfortable with the timing of my decision.”
The announcement comes as GM is expected to file for their IPO at the end of this week.
[Source: General Motors]
Hit the jump to read the official press release
General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre is expected to announce today that the automaker has already paid off all of its $6.7 billion in loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments. Back in November, GM announced it would begin paying back the loans and today Whitacre is scheduled to make the announcement that the remaining $5.8 billion has now been returned to the taxpayers that supported the American auto giant when it was in trouble.
A press conference is set for later today at GM’s Fairfax, Kan. assembly plant, where Whitacre is also expected to announce the expansion of production facilities there. Currently the plant builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.
This payback is, however, just a small potion of the almost $50 billion in taxpayer dollars used to support GM through its bankruptcy. As a result of that, the U.S. government still holds a 61 percent stake in the automaker. This news, however, is a sign that GM’s recovery is happening more quickly than expected. The U.S. Treasury had said it would agree to sell off its shares in GM once the debut is reduced to $3 billion – so expect an announcement of that nature to follow.
But... GM still open to offers
It’s been said several times before, but GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre today told reporters that the company is shutting down its Swedish Saab unit. “We’re closing down Saab,” he said. “We’re winding it down.”
Recently GM hired on wind-down firm AlixPartners, but continued to say that it was evaluating proposals from several interested parties.
Whitacre today said that so far none of the proposals, which include bids by Dutch exotic car maker Spyker and investment company Genii Capital, have been any better than closing Saab.
Product boss Bob Lutz, notorious for producing quotable phrases did so again today, telling Automotive News that, “For years GM has been procrastinating when it comes to Saab. I’m glad to see that for once GM is sticking with a decision to wind something down.”
Over the 20 years that Saab has been owned by GM, not once did it turn a profit.
The wind-down will begin, however, Whitacre said GM continues to keep its eyes and ears open should a viable proposal be put in front of them. Today, Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported the Genii, backed by Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, will have financing arranged for a cash bit shortly.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motors has reportedly delayed a board meeting that was to decide the fate of its loss-making Saab unit today, as a new bidder has emerged onto the scene. GM had already postponed Saab’s fate by dropping a self-imposed December 31st deadline in favor of a January 7th one. Now it is giving Spyker, as well as the new bidder, Genii Capital, one more day.
Genii Capital, a private equity firm, recently made headlines when it took a majority stake in Renault’s Formula One team. The asset-rich private-equity firm is reportedly preparing a cash offer, in direct response to GM CEO Ed Whitacre’s comments that interested parties had best be able to back up their offers with cash. ““It’s real easy,” he said, “show up with the money and you can have it.”
Genii spokesman Lars Carlstroem said that, “Saab is a strong brand on the same level as Porsche and BMW.” He also outlined a plan to restore Saab to profitability. It would work much in the way that the original Koenigsegg (a previous bidder) plan would, selling fewer, more premium vehicles at a high price point.
If a deal does go through tomorrow (with either Spyker or Genii), then Saab is poised to re-start production as early as January 11th. If not, it is expected that GM will begin winding down the Saab division, eliminating thousands of jobs in Sweden and in the U.S., where Saab has over 200 dealerships.
Dutch exotic car maker likely to purchase Swedish automaker by year's end
Dutch exotic car maker Spyker is likely to become the new owner of Swedish automaker Saab after GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre confirmed there are no other bidders. Earlier this week GM reached a deal with Beijing Auto to sell off old Saab assets so the Chinese company could produce previous generation Saab models in its home market.
The deal left two companies (Renco and Spyker) vying for ownership of Saab, but now it appears GM has just one interested party.
Whitacre did say that he though a deal could be reached by the end of the year – which GM had set up as a self-imposed deadline to sell-off its loss-making Saab unit. A company spokesman has, however, said that GM would be willing to bankroll Saab for a short period past the deadline if a deal looked possible.
If an agreement between General Motors and Spyker can’t be made, Whitacre did say that GM would close Saab. That is unlikely, as GM is almost certain to gain more by selling Saab in its current state as an active automobile manufacturer.
[Source: Automotive News]