GM’s Akerson to retire in January

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General Motors said Dan Akerson would step down as chairman and CEO on Jan. 15 next year.

Akerson, 65, helped guide the automaker through arguably the roughest time in company history after being named chief in September 2010. Following the initial public offering in November 2010, GM said it racked up 15 consecutive quarters of profitability under his lead.

“My goals as CEO were to put the customer at the center of every decision we make, to position GM for long term success and to make GM a company that America can be proud of again,” Akerson said in a release this week. “We are well down that path, and I’m certain that our new team will keep us moving in that direction.”

The automaker said he pulled ahead his succession plan by several months after his wife was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Mary Barra, 51, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, will replace him as CEO – the first woman named global president of an automaker.

GM’ board also named Theodore (Tim) Solso to succeed Akerson as chairman. Solso, 66, is the former chairman and CEO of Cummins, Inc.

“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,” Akerson said in a message to employees.

With 33 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering, and senior staff positions.  She is a leader in the company’s ongoing turnaround, revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.

The executive shakeup continued with Dan Ammann, 41, named company president. He will assume responsibility for managing the company’s regional operations around the world. 

The global Chevrolet and Cadillac brand organizations and GM Financial will also report to Ammann.

Ammann joined GM in 2010 where his first assignment was to manage GM’s initial public offering. As CFO, he has led a transformation of GM’s finance operations into a world-class organization.  He also led the strategy to rebuild the company’s captive finance capability through the successful establishment and growth of GM Financial.

He will retain CFO responsibilities at least through the release of the company’s fourth quarter and full-year 2013 results in early February 2014.  His replacement as CFO will be named later.

Mark Reuss, 50, executive vice president and president, North America, will assume control of the position vacated by Barra. 

Under Reuss’ watch, GM said North America has produced consistent profits and improved margins during a product renaissance that includes the launch of award-winning cars and trucks such as the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Corvette, Impala and Silverado pickup.