Following the collapse of deals to sell Opel/Vauxhall, Saab and Saturn, General Motors Co. CEO Fritz Henderson stepped down on Tuesday. Henderson, a career GM employee, was replaced by recently-appointed GM chairman Ed Whitacre in the interim.
One report suggests Henderson walked away after flunking his board-mandated performance review, administered 100 days after GM's exit from bankruptcy in mid-July.
GM's post-bankruptcy troubles began when Penske stepped away from a brokered deal to purchase Saturn. Soon after, GM backed out of a deal to sell Opel and Vauxhall to Magna Steyr. Following those missteps, Koenigsegg pulled out of their negotiated buyout of fellow Swedish marque Saab. As this was going on, Whitacre had been publicly questioning Henderson's desire to quickly issue an IPO for GM common stock.
While Whitacre searches for a new CEO and President to replace Henderson, longtime GM exec Bob Lutz will deliver a speech in place of the exiled executive at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Henderson was tapped to replace former CEO Rick Wagoner who was muscled our by the Obama Administration last March.
The ousting of Henderson was a "board-led decision," according to Chris Preuss, a GM Spokesman. The Obama Administration had nothing to do with the change of direction, said the mouthpieces for both GM and the White House.
In an interview with Autoweek, former auto industry executive and law professor Logan Robinson said, "Whitacre wants an outside CEO. He's looking for another Alan Mulally." Mulally was tapped to head Ford three years ago after a long and successful career with Boeing.