Riding high on a $1.3 billion quarterly profit, General Motors prepares to break free from government control and relist on the stock exchange.
Revenues and profits swelled under CEO Ed Whitacre, 68, who was brought out of retirement last year by the Obama administration to lead the troubled company after a government-financed restructuring under bankruptcy protection. He stepped down on August 12.
Whitacre, the long-time head of telecom giant AT&T who took the helm of GM on December 1, 2009, expressed confidence in successor Dan Akerson, who had no previous experience in manufacturing before joining the GM board when it emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009.
"I know Dan will do a terrific job of leading this company forward," Whitacre said. "He has a great team around him and the complete support of the board and GM's employees... I think he's absolutely the right choice."
GM is widely expected to register its plans for an initial public stock offering with securities regulators on August 13 after having reportedly secured a five billion dollar line of credit.
Its drive for an IPO will be boosted by news that the firm's revenues swelled to $33 billion in the second quarter, a $10 billion increase over the same period last year, as vehicle sales rose 11%.
Whitacre said he was proud of GM's progress under his stewardship and insisted that the transition to Akerson's leadership would be "seamless."
"Dan has played a big role in the key decisions and changes at the new GM," Whitacre said. "Dan brings broad business experience, decisive leadership and continuity. The transition will be smooth and he will build on the positive moment we've established."
Akerson, 61, joined the GM board after a distinguished career in finance as a managing director at the Carlyle Group and in telecommunications, serving as chairman and chief executive officer of XO Communications and at Nextel Communications.
He was also chairman and CEO of General Instrument Corp.
Akerson said he shared Whitacre's vision for the company and has few major changes in mind, but declined to detail his plans until he officially claims the top spot.
"Ed's vision of simplifying the business, of giving people the authority and accountability to do their jobs and keeping them focused on designing and building and selling the world's best vehicles has served the new GM extremely well," he said..
"I expect this will continue to drive our success going forward."
The timing of Whitacre's announcement to step down was no accident, said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive officer of automotive site Edmunds.com. "GM wants the issue of succession planning off the table."
GM executives declined to comment on the upcoming IPO, which will allow the U.S. government to begin winding down its massive stake in the company.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010