Outside pressure grows for GM to oust Wagoner, but please, please don't jump out of the frying pan into the fire by appointing Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn
General Motors Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner is coming under increasing pressure from outside the company to resign as part of any broad bailout of the auto maker by the federal government.
On Sunday, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), a supporter of emergency loans for Detroit, suggested Mr. Wagoner should go if the government follows through and provides billions of dollars to help the auto giant restructure and return to profitability.
"I think you've got to consider new leadership," the senator said on the CBS talk show "Face The Nation."
"If you're going to restructure, you've got to bring in a new team to do this," he said. "I think [Mr. Wagoner] has to move on."
"If this management team that's currently in place doesn't understand the urgency of the situation and is not willing to make the tough choices and adapt to these new circumstances, then they should go," [President-elect Obama] said.
"What I think we have to put an end to is the head-in-the-sand approach to the auto industry that has been prevalent for decades now," Mr. Obama said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
On Sunday, Jerome B. York, an adviser to billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian who served as a GM director in 2006 when Mr. Kerkorian owned a stake in the company, called out publicly for sweeping change at GM.
"Aside from a failure of leadership at the most senior executive management level, GM has five long-serving directors who have been on the board 10 years or more," Mr. York said in a telephone interview. "They have approved of and overseen many of the moves that have contributed to the company's troubles. They should also resign." [Amen on that Brother.]
Possible successors for Mr. Wagoner could include GM President Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, who took over responsibility for GM's auto operations from Mr. Wagoner earlier this year. Outside replacements could include Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn. [No, please, please no.]
Other names that have surfaced are former General Electric Co. CEO Jack Welch [he would work] and Austin Ligon, who retired early in June 2006 as head of CarMax Inc.
Critics of Mr. Wagoner will get a fresh set of ammunition on Monday when GM runs a full-page advertisement in an automotive trade publication spelling out its need for a bailout and disclosing a candid list of mistakes it has made in the past that has helped lead the auto maker to the edge of collapse.
"While we're still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you," the ad says. "At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market."