An administration official confirmed that Mr. Wagoner was asked to step down to make way for ongoing restructuring within the company. Mr. Wagoner will be replaced, at least on an interim basis, by Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, the company's chief operating officer.
Mr. Wagoner was asked to step down on Friday by Steven Rattner, the investment banker picked last month by the administration to lead the Treasury Department's auto-industry task force. Mr. Rattner broke the news to Mr. Wagoner in person at his office at Treasury, according to an administration official. Afterward, Mr. Rattner met one-on-one with Mr. Henderson, who will fill in as GM's CEO.
GM didn't immediately return calls for comment. One longtime GM board member, Kent Kresa, declined to comment when reached by phone Sunday night. WSJ
In remarks Sunday, Mr. Obama said that he intends to extract "a set of sacrifices from all parties involved -- management, labor, shareholders, creditors, suppliers, dealers." The industry, he said on CBS's "Face the Nation," must "take serious restructuring steps now in order to preserve a brighter future down the road." The two companies "are not there yet," he added.
Mr. Wagoner's removal shows that the sacrifices could cut deep. The departure of the company's top executive promises to further shake up a company that has already been through considerable change over the past six months. The 56-year-old executive had been scrambling to craft a global strategy aimed at maintaining leadership in the global sales chase with Toyota Motor Corp., and making big profits in emerging markets.
But Mr. Wagoner's plans came crashing down in the second half of 2008 as the company ran short of cash and was forced to ask the federal government for tens of billions of dollars in aid. At the same time, his executive team started dismantling several parts of the company, including a plan to shed several U.S. brands, slow the pace of new-product introductions and sell off stakes in international operations. WSJ
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