Whitacre named GM's permanent CEO

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General Motors Co. announced today that Ed Whitacre Jr. would be the automaker’s permanent CEO.

Whitacre, the chairman of the board, was asked by the board to remain in his position, a role he assumed in early December when he took over for ousted executive Fritz Henderson.

He also said GM would pay back all of its government loans in full, by June.

“I was both honored and pleased to accept this role,” he told reporters today. “So I'm going to do it for a while.”

The 68-year-old has been steering the company through much of the strife experienced in the last 15 months. In his time at the helm, he has shaken the troubled company up with executive layoffs, dealership closings and the axing or selling of four brands.

The announcements were made today during a press conference in Detroit. While the position announcement came as a bit of shock, the real surprise came when Whitacre mentioned GM’s debt to the Canadian and U.S. governments would be settled by the summer.

The company owes $1.4 billion to the Canadian federal government and the province of Ontario combined.

Plans for an initial public offering are expected to help pay down the auto giant’s debts but the CEO would not say when an IPO would take place.

He hinted the IPO would depend on market conditions and the financial stability moving forward.

- with files from The Associate Press