General Motors has capped a difficult year--which included filing for bankrupcy and closing down multiple divisions--with an anouncement that CEO Fritz Henderson is stepping down after only 8 months at the helm. Henderson's term has been marked by a number of soured deals, including scuttled plans to sell off Saab and Saturn. His interim replacement is company chairman Ed Whitacre, a former AT&T executive, who is promising change at the company. What does the management shakeup mean for the future of the auto giant? (Watch General Motors announce Fritz Henderson's resignation)
It's the dying gasp of the old GM: The ouster of Henderson "marks the final vote of no confidence in the culture of the old GM," says Matt Vella at Portfolio. Going back to the 1930s, the company has always cultivated top executives "from its own ranks," but Whitacre will have to look outside to find someone who can "jump-start the Detroit giant's sleepy, insular culture." He should be looking to Ford, which has benefited greatly from its then-controversial decision in 2006 to hire "outsider Alan Mullaly" to run the company.
"Fritz Henderson departs GM"
Whitacre will be a disaster: Hiring Ed Whitacre as Henderson's interim replacement "is an extremely poor choice," says Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall Street. He "has no experience running a car company" and shouldn't be expecting much help from the rest of GM's senior management, who view him as a "narcissist interloper." While the company's board will "regret the day" they ousted Henderson, they will "regret even more replacing him with Whitacre."
"Whitacre's appointment will damage GM"
An unlikely comeback for an old-timer?: Could Henderson's departure open the door for legendary GM executive Bob Lutz to finally take the reins?, says Richard Chang in The New York Times. Despite being 77 years old, Lutz's "reputation at G.M. has never been higher or his presence more visible"--his promotional campaigns have even been a hit on YouTube. Lutz's s appointment at CEO would amount to "a remarkable comeback," after he had "pretty much laid out to pasture" earlier this year.
"Henderson out at GM -- Lutz in?"