GM's Daniel AckersonThe auto industry is still reverberating with the unexpected news Thursday of Edward Whitacre's decision to step down as chief executive and chairman at General Motors. Though the formerly bankrupt automaker has had two profitable quarters, there's still plenty of work remaining to ensure GM's long-term viability. And that work now falls to Whitacre's successor, Daniel Akerson, who'll take over as CEO Sept. 1 and as chairman by year's end.

Not the least of details Akerson will need to tend to is the auto giant's much-anticipated initial public offering of stock, the filing for which could come anytime soon. The offering is expected to raise as much as $16 billion, and help GM to repay the $50 billion it owes the U.S. Treasury.

To do that, Akerson will need to convince shareholders that GM, which is only a year out of bankruptcy and has posted just two profitable quarters, is a worthy investment.

Another Telecom Veteran

In comments made during the company's second-quarter conference call, Whitacre said he was comfortable stepping down at this time because "GM is on the right track with good momentum behind us and a bright future ahead of us." On Thursday the company reported it earned $1.3 billion in the second quarter on revenues of $33.2 billion. The results follow a first-quarter profit of $900 million.

Though a good showing, GM's second-quarter earnings were half that of smaller rival Ford Motor (F), which posted a $2.6 billion gain. Ford also weathered the financial crisis and economic downturn without the aid of a government bailout, unlike GM -- and Chrysler.

Akerson, 61, is little known within automotive circles. He joined GM's board about a year ago, after the company exited bankruptcy. As with Whitacre, former CEO at AT&T (T), a big chunk of Akerson's management experience is in telecommunications. He spent a decade at MCI Communications, before moving on Nextel Communications in 1996 and eventually to Nextlink Communications, which became XO Communications, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

XO filed for bankruptcy in mid 2002, and Akerson left the company later that year. Since 2003, he has been a managing director at Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm. Akerson's experience in private equity makes him a good choice as Whitacre's replacement, Joe Phillippi, principal of Short Hills, N.J., consulting firm AutoTrends, told Bloomberg News. "He's a PE guy, and the function of a PE guy is cash flow and cash out, as in taking a company public." Phillippi said.

As Much Political as Financial

Some industry insiders, including Micheline Maynard, senior editor at Changing Gears, said it's yet too soon for an IPO. She'd like to see GM log a few more quarters of healthy revenues and earnings, which, of course, are dependent on strong auto sales.

But as the economic recovery seemingly stalls, consumers are less confident that they can take on more debt in the form of auto loans, fearing job loss or other negative impacts, such as further erosion in home values. "Everyone is worried about the economy right now," Maynard told NPR's Morning Edition program.

GM's fast-track to an IPO, however, is as much political as financial. With midterm elections looming in November, the Obama administration is eager to show the American public that it acted prudently in bailing out GM. A public offering of stock would go a long way toward that aim.

President Obama has already held as successes the 55,000 jobs the administration says have been created since the bailout, as well as the million-or-so jobs its says were saved by not allowing GM and Chrysler to go under. Speaking last week, Whitacre wouldn't speculate on the timing of an IPO, but did express eagerness for GM to lose its "Government Motors" moniker that critics have attached to the car company for accepting taxpayer money.

Keeping GM on Course


Still, as Akerson looks to become GM's fourth CEO in half as many years, there's concern that his tenure may be as short-lived as that of Whitacre or Frederick "Fritz" Henderson, who was ousted last December. Whitacre said Thursday it was never his intention to stay one day longer than necessary at GM. The 68-year-old Texan is eager to rejoin the retirement he left behind to help GM through its post-bankruptcy transformation.

The slightly younger Akerson is expected to mark his term in years not months, as in the cases of Whitacre and Henderson, who took over from long-time CEO Rick Wagoner in 2009. Whether Akerson, a Naval Academy graduate, can keep a righted GM on course rides not only on a successful IPO but the company's continued ability to produce vehicles the American driving public wants.

One thing is certain: GM's new admiral has little time to waste in plotting a successful course.

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hemipwr54

Have to sink the ship for the rats to leave !
It will be a glorious day in American History when the UAW closes for good !
The Internet has been a great help in exposing the UAW Thugs and how anti-American they really are !

August 16 2010 at 1:32 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
PAMELA S

Subject Matter: President Obama speaking in Wisconsin, today, 08/16/10...Continued problems facing(UNEMPLOYMENT), HERE IN AMERICA.

Keep in mind, I like him, President Obama, "aside", from what he is NOT DOING FOR THIS COUNTRY. Sir, you spoke in detail about creating jobs in this country. WHAT ABOUT THE ONES THAT LEFT? which started, because of and during the Clinton malady of administratiion. I saw Joe Biden speak even before consideration as a running mate prior to the 2008 election. He said, "all we have to do is enact the rules of NAFTA." It hasn't happened, and has Joe Biden even thought about his retoric thereafter?

You, President Obama, have to BRING THE JOBS BACK, not just try to create them hopefully, through small and prvate business!

Yes America has been through hard times before and currently....But we are sick anfd tired of it. Taking it on the chin has dusgustingly happened too many times and HAS GOT TO STOP! Especially when one's chin is on the ground.

I am not a republican, not a tea party activist. I am however sick and tired, like millions of Americans that have to see the back and forth of what the two party system may or probably will not do for it's citizens.

Thank you,

August 16 2010 at 1:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
PAMELA S

Subject Matter: President Obama speaking in Wisconsin, today, 08/16/10...Continued problems facing(UNEMPLOYMENT), HERE IN AMERICA.

Keep in mind, I like him, President Obama, "aside", from what he is NOT DOING FOR THIS COUNTRY. Sir, you spoke in detail about creating jobs in this country. WHAT ABOUT THE ONES THAT LEFT? which started, because of and during the Clinton malady of administratiion. I saw Joe Biden speak even before consideration as a running mate prior to the 2008 election. He said, "all we have to do is enact the rules of NAFTA." It hasn't happened, and has Joe Biden even thought about his retoric thereafter?

You, President Obama, have to BRING THE JOBS BACK, not just try to create them hopefully, through small and prvate business!

Yes America has been through hard times before and currently....But we are sick anfd tired of it. Taking it on the chin has dusgustingly happened too many times and HAS GOT TO STOP! Especially when one's chin is on the ground.

I am not a republican, not a tea party activist. I am however sick and tired, like millions of Americans that have to see the back and forth of what the two party system may or probably will not do for it's citizens.

Thank you,

August 16 2010 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PAMELA S's comment
jerrybeutler

president Obama is a outright IDIOT

August 16 2010 at 2:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bumpamimi

With government motors spending 500,000 american taxpayer dollars to put in a mexican plant; I think the whole company needs to be looked into. It"S a very SICK situation when they use taxpayer bailout dollars to build a plant in another country. I personally would never again buy a General motors product AND hopefully neither will any other american. Let them sell their junk in MEXICO and see how long they last. The bastards

August 16 2010 at 12:29 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
hemipwr54

Maybe GM (Government Motors) is getting into the TV business , seeing Telecom leaders are doing the leading ? Notice anyone who knows cars is staying away from GM and the Unions .
I guess building a car is like selecting TV programs , I mean how hard is it to run out of cash , then ask for more and just keep spending and spending like there is no tomorrow , sounds easy to me .
56 billion in the hole still but they made a profit , that 'Fuzzy math' is something else !

August 16 2010 at 12:11 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
fatboymd

They should end up just where they dumped their last shareholders. Why would anyone invest in this company? They had product but refused to make it or service it. They took taxpayer money but kept the same incompetent management and overpaid and over benefited unions. My tax dollars paid twice and my stock/property was stolen by the unions and Obama( sound like Cuba). They should have gone away. Period.

August 16 2010 at 11:55 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
diamonds4bulls

Why is that you report that GM is in the hands of the new CEO but you still support the fact that the Financial crises is still Bush's mess. Did Obama take over just like the CEO of GM, so Obama should own up to the crises being his mess now.

August 16 2010 at 11:36 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
HI THERE COWBOY

General Motors and Chrylser should have been allowed to fail from the start. Tax payer dollars should never be allowed to bail out companies as this. General Motors did state several months ago that they paid off the bail out money - but they paid it off with stimulas money. Stimulas money is taxpayer money and bail out money is taxpayer money. So taxpayer money is used to pay off taxpayer money? There is a reason Ford is doing so well. The thinking American public understands what Government, General Motors and Chrysler are doing and it is not going to work. Why would I buy a vehicle that I allready partially own with my tax dollard? I would be foolish to chase good money after bad.

August 16 2010 at 11:26 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Dick

Hows that change working for GM and the unions Dan?

August 16 2010 at 11:20 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
defilip2

People would be supporting GM if they had good customer service and take care and make sure there customers are happy. i have recently bought a new car 45 DAYS AGO been in shop 6 times still isnt fixed. car is a lemon and all i ask for 45 days ago was a different vehicle and GM would not do it. now i dont want a different vehicle from Gm I want out of this vehicle and i will never buy from GM again. im working with attorney general on this issue. CAR IS A LEMON. BE CAREFUL BUYING A CAR FROM GM OR INVESTING IN A COMPANY THAT LOOKS OUT FOR THERE POCKET NOT DONT CARE AbOUT WHO THEY MESS OVER. They got there bail out money so thats all they care about.

August 16 2010 at 10:53 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply