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Whitacre Named New GM Chairman

By Kendra Marr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

General Motors announced yesterday that Edward E. Whitacre Jr., former chairman and chief executive of AT&T, will take the helm of the revamped automaker.

GM expects Whitacre to become chairman of the board when the restructured automaker emerges from bankruptcy protection late this summer.

"He's demonstrated leadership in a very important industry that was going through change," said interim GM chairman Kent Kresa, who led the candidate search. The Obama administration picked Whitacre from Kresa's list of front-runners.

Whitacre, 67, has led AT&T and its predecessor companies from 1990 to 2007. He started his telecommunications career at Southwestern Bell, and grew the company through several mergers and sales, including that of AT&T in 2005.

"The fact that he had done so many acquisitions and integrated them so well says a lot about his ability to form culture, create excitement and keep the organization humming and moving forward," Kresa said.

Whitacre is on the boards of ExxonMobil and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. He holds an industrial engineering degree from Texas Tech University.

"I am honored to be able to serve GM at this critical juncture and take part in its reinvention," Whitacre said in a statement.

Kresa, along with current board members GM chief executive Frederick A. Henderson, Philip A. Laskawy, Kathryn V. Marinello, Erroll B. Davis Jr. and E. Neville Isdell, will "serve as the nucleus" of the new GM board, the company said in a statement. The six remaining board members will "most likely retire no later than the approval of the sale of GM assets to the new entity," GM said.

Kresa is leading the search for four more directors to serve on the new GM board and has been regularly consulting with Steven Rattner, chief of President Obama's auto task force. Ultimately, the Obama administration will have a say in who serves on the panel. The United States will own a majority stake in the new GM.

The Canadian government and the United Auto Workers' retiree health care trust will nominate one director each, bringing the total to 13 directors.

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