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GM’s Whitacre Says ‘Major’ Leadership Changes Done

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GM’s Whitacre Says ‘Major’ Leadership Changes Done (Update1)

By David Welch

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. Chief Executive Officer Ed Whitacre told employees his overhaul of senior management is complete after bringing in new lieutenants to run GM’s finances, lobbying and North American operations.

“I want to reassure you that the major leadership changes are behind us,” Whitacre wrote in a March 31 letter obtained by Bloomberg. “The team we have in place today is the team that will take us forward.”

Whitacre, 68, said he wrote the letter to quell employees’ anxiety over personnel changes as the Detroit-based automaker works on its strategy for returning to profit. Communications Vice President Selim Bingol confirmed the letter’s authenticity.

Twelve of GM’s 13 executive committee members are new hires or are in different jobs since the company left bankruptcy in July, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said on April 7. Liddell was hired in December, the same month Whitacre named two new lobbyists and picked Mark Reuss as North America president.

“People who have been there a long time, even if they are doing a good job, they worry about getting the phone call because of all the turmoil,” said Joe Phillippi, president of consultant AutoTrends in Short Hills, New Jersey. “Getting out there and saying the team is in place is a good idea.”

Whitacre, the former AT&T Inc. chairman and CEO, became GM’s chairman in July and took the CEO post on Dec. 1, when the board ousted Fritz Henderson. He has said GM needs to change after the biggest U.S. automaker lost about $88 billion from 2005 through last year’s first quarter.

Since December, GM has announced the arrival, departure or reassignment of 35 managers. Some of the moves were made by Whitacre and others by Liddell and Reuss, who overhauled the sales and marketing group. GM also announced the retirement of Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who will leave May 1.

Whitacre sent the letter because “he wants people to be confident about their work,” Bingol said.



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