The news at a glance
GM names its first female CEO; American and US Airways merge; Chinese bribery probe at JPMorgan; Cuts loom for Detroit creditors; Lululemon clears out its C-suite
Autos: GM names its first female CEOGeneral Motors’ new chief executive is a “company woman” through and through, said Bill Vlasic in The New York Times. The automaker’s board has named Mary T. Barra as the company’s next boss, making her “the first woman to ascend to the top job at a major auto company.” Barra joined GM at 18, enrolled in a technical school to become a “rank-and-file engineer,” and moved up the ladder to become a senior executive “overseeing all of GM’s global product development.” Her predecessor, Daniel Akerson, “who is retiring earlier than expected from GM because of his wife’s health problems,” said Barra was “picked for her talent, not her gender.”
Still, GM is “smashing a -century-old gender barrier,” said Jeff Bennett and Sara Murray in The Wall Street Journal. Barra’s appointment will make GM “the largest company by revenue run by a female CEO.” It also inducts her into an exclusive club: She will become only the 22nd woman currently running a company in the Fortune 500, where just 4.2 percent of chief executives are female. But Barra has a tough road ahead. “She will inherit a company that has rebounded from its humbling 2009 government-funded bankruptcy, but still faces significant challenges,” including stiff competition from Ford and global rivals Volkswagen and Toyota.
Airlines: American and US Airways mergeIt’s official: American Airlines and US Airways are one, said Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times. American Airlines “officially emerged from bankruptcy” last week, “closing a blockbuster deal with US Airways to become the world’s largest airline.” While reservations and websites will be operated separately for now, the new airline said, passengers “will be able to earn and redeem miles when traveling on either carrier.” Analysts say the merger “should put the new airline in a better position to compete with rivals,” but it could take up to two years before operations merge completely.
Banks: Chinese bribery probe at JPMorgan JPMorgan Chase’s nepotism scandal is deepening, said Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg in The New York Times. “Federal authorities have obtained confidential documents that shed new light” on accusations that the bank hired the children of prominent Chinese officials to help land deals in China. The “Sons and Daughters” program has been under investigation for months, but the new documents are telling. One executive emailed colleagues, “You all know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters program—it almost has a linear relationship” with winning business in China.
Bankruptcy: Cuts loom for Detroit creditorsA federal judge “formally declared Detroit bankrupt” last week, said Joseph Lichterman and Bernie Woodall in Reuters.com. Judge Steven Rhodes’s ruling “clears the way for potentially sweeping cuts” to city pensions and “precedent-setting losses” for the city’s bondholders. Rhodes said the city could cut pensions as part of its plan to write off $18 billion in debt, but “warned he will not rubber-stamp” such cuts. Attorneys for pensioners say they will appeal.
Retail: Lululemon clears out its C-suiteYoga retailer Lululemon is “balancing its corporate chakras,” said Kyle Stock in Businessweek.com. Founder Dennis “Chip” Wilson has stepped down as chairman to be replaced by Michael Casey, a former chief financial officer at Starbucks. The company also announced that a new chief executive, Laurent Potdevin, will take the reins in January. The exit of the “outspoken and occasionally toxic” Wilson comes shortly after he “triggered a firestorm” by saying that the retailer’s products “just actually don’t work” for plus-size women.