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Jerome York, Apple director and ex-Chrysler executive, dies

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Jerome York, Apple director and ex-Chrysler executive, dies

Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin / Associated Press

Detroit -- Jerome York, a board member at Apple Inc., and a financial wizard who is credited with turning around Chrysler and IBM, died Thursday at the age of 71.

York, who lived in suburban Detroit, was taken to POH Regional Medical Center in Pontiac on Tuesday night. The Wall Street Journal reported he suffered from a brain aneurysm.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement that York was a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on the board for more than a dozen years.

York worked for all three Detroit automakers starting in the 1960s. He helped Chrysler survive its first government bailout in 1980 and later rose to chief financial officer and helped oversee cost cuts and a return to profitability. He made similar moves as IBM Corp.'s chief financial officer in the 1990s.

He also advised investor Kirk Kerkorian in a later takeover attempt of Chrysler and in efforts to reform General Motors.

York joined Apple's board in 1997 when most people doubted the company's future, Jobs' statement said.

"It's been a privilege to know and work with Jerry, and I'm going to miss him a lot," he said.

As Chrysler's CFO, York helped restore the No. 3 U.S. automaker to profitability with cuts and asset sales. and was considered a potential successor to then-chairman Lee Iacocca. He left Chrysler to become IBM Corp.'s CFO in 1993.

An IBM senior manager described him as "the pit bull who came to sell everything and not approve anything," according to a Harvard Business School case study about IBM's turnaround.

York left IBM in 1995 to become vice chairman of Tracinda Corp., billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's investment company. Kerkorian teamed up with Iacocca and made an offer to buy Chrysler that same year. Kerkorian retreated the following year after winning a board seat at the company.

After Kerkorian bought up GM shares in 2006, York was named to the automaker's board. York supported an alliance with Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, as well as ditching some GM brands. He resigned shortly after GM ended talks with Renault and Nissan.

"I have grave reservations concerning the ability of the company's current business model to successfully compete in the marketplace with those of the Asian producers," York wrote in his resignation letter.

Three years later, GM entered bankruptcy protection and shed four of its eight brands.

York also is chief executive officer of Harwinton Capital LLC, a private investment company he controls.

He was born in Memphis in 1938 and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. He earned a master of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of business administration degree from the University of Michigan.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100318/AUTO01/3180466/1148/Jerome-York--Apple-director-and-ex-Chrysler-executive--dies#ixzz0iY9faK5g

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Jerry York, former GM director and Chrysler CFO, dies at 71


and Wire Reports March 18, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

UPDATED: 3/18/10 12:38 p.m. ET

DETROIT -- Jerry York, the former Chrysler finance chief who later joined investor Kirk Kerkorian in pressuring General Motors for change, died today at age 71 after reportedly suffering a brain aneurysm.

His death was announced in a statement by Apple Inc., where he was a board member since 1997.

“Jerry York has been one of the most influential voices in the auto industry over the last 30 years,” said Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation Inc. “Today many of the changes he called for are taking place and his vision is becoming reality.”

York advised Kerkorian in his failed bid for Chrysler Corp. in 2007 and the billionaire's investment in both GM and Ford Motor Co. While a GM director for eight months in 2006, York was a persistent critic of GM and CEO Rick Wagoner.

He was named to the board in February of that year as a representative of Kerkorian, who had built a 9.9 percent stake in the automaker as losses mounted.

Initially, York called for GM to cut its dividend 50 percent, lower the salaries of top executives and reduce its stable of brands.

York resigned from the board in October 2006 after GM rejected Kerkorian's proposed alliance with Carlos Ghosn's Renault-Nissan after three months of study.

"To get to the crux of the matter, I have not found an environment in the boardroom that is very receptive to probing much beyond the materials provided by management," York said in his resignation letter.

He also said the threat of bankruptcy, while temporarily diminished, still existed because of “longer-term fundamentals” including cash flow and shrinking North American market share.

Two years later, Wagoner would seek emergency federal loans while warning that the automaker was running out of cash. GM eventually filed for court protection as part of the U.S.-steered rescue that swept Wagoner from his job and left the surviving company with four vehicle brands in the United States instead of eight.

York worked at Ford before joining Chrysler, where he spent 14 years and departed in 1993.

In November, York said his former employer had less than a 50 percent chance of long-term survival after its bankruptcy and rescue by Italy's Fiat S.p.A.

The first big question surrounding Chrysler, York said, was timing. "Will some combination of industry sales and product -- including product from Fiat -- get there in time before they run out of cash?"

The second question, York said, was perception: "As we all know, Fiat, for historic reasons, does not have a great reputation in this country."

York was a former CFO of IBM Corp. He was also CEO of Harwinton Capital and a board member of auto parts supplier Dana Holding Corp.

Reuters contributed to this report

PRESS RELEASE: Apple Director Jerome B. York Passes Away

CUPERTINO, Calif., March 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Apple® is sad to announce the death of Apple Board member Jerome B. (Jerry) York. York, the chairman, president and CEO of Harwinton Capital, joined Apple's Board of Directors in 1997. He was the former CFO of IBM and Chrysler, and former vice chairman of Tracinda. He is widely acknowledged for his contributions at Chrysler and IBM during their turnarounds.

"Jerry joined Apple's Board in 1997 when most doubted the company's future. He has been a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on our Board for over a dozen years," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "It's been a privilege to know and work with Jerry, and I'm going to miss him a lot."

Jerry York was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1938. He graduated from the United States Military Academy, and received an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Michigan. Trained as an engineer, York worked his way up through Chrysler to become CFO.

© 2010 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS and Macintosh are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100318/OEM02/100319902/1179#ixzz0iYBbXEwc

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