Ex-GM chief G. Richard Wagoner Jr. to join Post Co. board

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 11, 2010; A15

G. Richard "Rick" Wagoner Jr., who was ousted as chief executive of General Motors by the Obama administration, has been elected to The Washington Post Co.'s board of directors, increasing the board to 11 members, the education and media company said Thursday.

The Post Co.'s news release said Wagoner "retired from General Motors Corporation in August 2009," but the White House has acknowledged that it forced Wagoner to step down two months before the automaker was pushed into bankruptcy and given a $51 billion government bailout. As part of GM's reorganization, the federal government took a 61 percent stake in the company that it still holds. GM plans an initial public offering in coming months to pay back the taxpayer money.

Wagoner will make $70,000 a year, which is in line with what other Post Co. directors make.

In addition to its flagship newspaper, The Post Co. owns the Kaplan education company -- which provides more than half of The Post Co.'s revenue -- a regional cable company called Cable One, six television stations and various small publications, including Slate. The company also owns Newsweek, which it is attempting to sell.

"Rick ran one of the biggest advertisers in the world; GM was a very large-scale buyer of advertising," Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham said Thursday. "Kaplan is becoming more of an international company, and Rick has managed companies around the world. He also has quite an extensive financial background, and that's also very valued."

Graham said he and other Post Co. directors "have known Rick for years."

Wagoner was a 32-year GM veteran and served as chairman and chief executive of the automaker from 2003 to 2009. Before that, he was the company's chief financial officer.

Wagoner is credited with expanding GM's presence in China. Graham would not respond to criticism that Wagoner managed the automaker's U.S. division poorly and was slow to adapt to shifting buyer attitudes.

Other Post Co. directors include Warren E. Buffett, Barry Diller, former Xerox chairman Anne Mulcahy and Melinda French Gates, wife of Bill Gates.

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